Blogs » Neurognosis » The "Gay Gene" Identified?

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Image On the 7th of this month a provisional research article was published online in BMC Genetics. BMC or Biomedical Central is a large publisher of open-access, peer-reviewed online journals of which BMC Genetics is one of their many journals.

What makes this article remarkable? Well, the Korean research team which published the article seem to have found a gene which changes the mating affinity of female rats. Some interesting neurobiological finds were made as well.

The research created a line of mutant rats lacking a particular gene - fucose mutarotase (FucM). Those female mice without this gene displayed a preference for female urine as well as mounting a normal female partner.

The team noticed that the -/- mutants also had a reduced number of tyrosine hydroxylase neurons of the anteroventral periventricular nucleus compared to the control rats. The AVPv region and the hormonal receptors there are heavily involved in development of mating behavior. Tyrosine hydroxylase neurons are involved in dimorphic mating behavior as well.

However, this may all be the result of a developmental change, specifically a reduction of fucosylated serum alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) in the embryo. AFP isn't necessary for the embryo to develop normally however, it is important in regard to female fertility.

Taken together the evidence seems to point to the possibility of the FucM gene in the development of a brain which prefers the same sex. However, as is par for the course in science, reproducibility of these findings will go a long way to validate this research. We shall wait and see.