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“Lesbian mice” created

Timothy Kincaid

July 15th, 2010

In order for a mouse to mate you need some FucM. Fucose mutarotase (abbreviated FucM) is an enzyme that impacts sexual activity in mice. When a gene responsible for FucM is omitted, the developing brains of mice are exposed to extra oestrogen and the female pups exhibit sex-atypical behavior. (New Scientist)

Female mice lacking the gene avoided the advances of males, stopped sniffing male urine and attempted to mate with other females, though their ability to have pups was unaffected.

This is getting some attention. As Fox News asked, “Have Scientists Found the ‘Gay Gene’?

Sure. If you’re a female mouse.

Obviously human sexuality is far more complex than the mating instincts of mice. And it is extremely unlikely that any single gene is going to be found which dictates sexual orientation. But as time goes on we get a clearer picture that biology plays at least some part in the development of sexual orientation.

Simon LeVay, who researches the origins of sexuality, says that the Korean study is not directly relevant to the issue of human sexual orientation. As he points out, it is testosterone not oestrogen that masculinises the human brain, and human AFP doesn’t prevent oestrogen from entering the brain as it does in mice.

“Nevertheless, it is probably only a matter of time before molecular geneticists identify genes that influence sexual orientation in humans,” says LeVay.

It will be fascinating to see the response of conservatives when that time comes.

Comments

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Jason Cianciotto
July 15th, 2010 | LINK

Thanks for the review Timothy. I recall statements (need to actually dig for them) from religious right leaders a few years ago that admitted the possibility of genetic influence on sexual behavior.

Of course, they then tried to link any “gay gene” to the genetic influence on Alcoholism. Their argument: we don’t accept alcoholism so why would we accept homosexuality even if it is genetic…

They are anticipating this outcome and it won’t make them go away. The influence on public opinion and legal precedence, howeverm is another story…

Emily K
July 15th, 2010 | LINK

i love the picture posted.

but i dread the day people try to alter science to make “proper, straight” kids. While eliminating genetic factors for autism spectrum (for example) may eliminate certain social retardation, it might also eliminate high intelligence and sensitivity.

Why should sexual orientation be altered any more than left-handedness? It shouldn’t: both are morally irrelevant in a rational world.

I’m not comfortable with genetically engineering sentient beings for “perfection.” A bland mess will ultimately be created, IMHO.

Titus
July 15th, 2010 | LINK

Love the photo!

Ben in Oakland
July 15th, 2010 | LINK

Really? Fuc-M? Really?

Take THAT, religious right.

grantdale
July 15th, 2010 | LINK

(channelling poor ol’ Quo)

“Yes, but did they also test the puphood parental relationships? Especially with an overbearing mother? Without testing for the proven influence of family environment this speculation about the gene is just a wild guess.”

And you know it could be worse. No FucM, and no sense of smell… oh, lordy.

Actually, I think I may know her.

Elliot
July 15th, 2010 | LINK

Now I shall rule the world with the help of my legions of lesbian mice.

Priya Lynn
July 16th, 2010 | LINK

I’ll third it – that’s a super cute picture.

Billy
July 17th, 2010 | LINK

“It will be fascinating to see the response of conservatives when that time comes.”

I know what the response will be: “Sweet, so there’s a gay gene? Now we can start curing homosexuals in the womb through genetic engineering!”

I personally dread the day when the gay gene(s) is discovered, because people that want to hate us will hate us regardless of the reasoning. They know reparative therapy doesn’t work, so this will be their alternate solution. Clinics for worried parents will open up across the bible belt, offering to determine the sexuality of your unborn child, and alter it to straight if they turn out to be gay/lesbian/bi.

Suvi-Tuuli Allan
July 19th, 2010 | LINK

Lesbian mice? More like trans male.

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