Pheromones play vital roles for survival and reproduction in various organisms. In many fishes, prostaglandin F2α acts not only as a female reproductive hormone, facilitating ovulation and spawning, but also as a sex pheromone inducing male reproductive behaviors. Here, we unravel the molecular and neural circuit mechanisms underlying the pheromonal action of prostaglandin F2α in zebrafish. Prostaglandin F2α specifically activates two olfactory receptors with different sensitivities and expression in distinct populations of ciliated olfactory sensory neurons. Pheromone information is then transmitted to two ventromedial glomeruli in the olfactory bulb and further to four regions in higher olfactory centers. Mutant male zebrafish deficient in the high-affinity receptor exhibit loss of attractive response to prostaglandin F2α and impairment of courtship behaviors toward female fish. These findings demonstrate the functional significance and activation of selective neural circuitry for the sex pheromone prostaglandin F2α and its cognate olfactory receptor in fish reproductive behavior.
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