Abolition of male sexual behaviors in mice lacking estrogen receptors α and β (αβERKO)

Sonoko Ogawa, April E. Chester, Sylvia Curtis Hewitt, Vickie R. Walker, Jan Åke Gustafsson, Oliver Smithies, Kenneth S. Korach, Donald W. Pfaff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

235 Scopus citations


Male mice with a knockout of the estrogen receptor (ER)-α gene, a ligand-activated transcription factor, showed reduced levels of intromissions and no ejaculations whereas simple mounting behavior was not affected. In contrast, all components of sexual behaviors were intact in male mice lacking the novel ER-β gene. Here we measure the extent of phenotype in mice that lack both ER-α and ER-β genes (αβERKO). αβERKO male mice did not show any components of sexual behaviors, including simple mounting behavior. Nor did they show ultrasonic vocalizations during behavioral tests with receptive female mice. On the other hand, reduced aggressive behaviors of αβERKO mice mimicked those of single knockout mice of ER-α gene (αERKO). They showed reduced levels of lunge and bite aggression, but rarely showed offensive attacks. Thus, either one of the ERs is sufficient for the expression of simple mounting in male mice, indicating a redundancy in function. Offensive attacks, on the other hand, depend specifically on the ER-α gene. Different patterns of natural behaviors require different patterns of functions by ER genes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14737-14741
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number26
StatePublished - Dec 19 2000


  • Aggression
  • Ejaculation
  • Intromissions
  • Mounts
  • Testosterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • General


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