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Title: Chondroitin fragments are odorants that trigger fear behavior in fish
Authors: Mathuru, A.S.
Kibat, C.
Cheong, W.F.
Shui, G. 
Wenk, M.R.
Friedrich, R.W.
Jesuthasan, S.
Issue Date: 20-Mar-2012
Citation: Mathuru, A.S., Kibat, C., Cheong, W.F., Shui, G., Wenk, M.R., Friedrich, R.W., Jesuthasan, S. (2012-03-20). Chondroitin fragments are odorants that trigger fear behavior in fish. Current Biology 22 (6) : 538-544. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: The ability to detect and avoid predators is essential to survival. Various animals, from sea urchins to damselfly larvae, use injury of conspecifics to infer the presence of predators [1-7]. In many fish [1, 8, 9], skin damage causes the release of chemicals that elicit escape and fear in members of the shoal. The chemical nature of the alarm substance ("Schreckstoff" in German) [1], the neural circuits mediating the complex response, and the evolutionary origins of a signal with little obvious benefit to the sender, are unresolved. To address these questions, we use biochemical fractionation to molecularly characterize Schreckstoff. Although hypoxanthine-3 N-oxide has been proposed to be the alarm substance [10, 11], it has not been reliably detected in the skin [12] and there may be other active components [13, 14]. We show that the alarm substance is a mixture that includes the glycosaminoglycan (GAG) chondroitin. Purified chondroitins trigger fear responses. Like skin extract, chondroitins activate the mediodorsal posterior olfactory bulb, a region innervated by crypt neurons [15] that has a unique projection to the habenula [16]. These findings establish GAGs as a new class of odorants in fish, which trigger alarm behavior possibly via a specialized circuit. Video Abstract: © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
Source Title: Current Biology
ISSN: 09609822
DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2012.01.061
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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