Proteinaceous Pheromone Affecting Female Receptivity in a Terrestrial Salamander

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Science  17 Sep 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5435, pp. 1907-1909
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5435.1907

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A 22-kilodalton protein was isolated from the submandibular (mental) gland of the male terrestrial salamander, Plethodon jordani (family: Plethodontidae). This proteinaceous pheromone, termed plethodontid receptivity factor (PRF), was experimentally delivered to the female during courtship and shown to increase female receptivity. In most plethodontid salamanders, ovulation occurs weeks or months after insemination, so the pheromone-induced change in receptivity is the only known function of PRF. The messenger RNAs corresponding to isoforms of PRF were transcribed into complementary DNA, cloned, sequenced, and shown to have homology with cytokines of the interleukin-6 family. Pheromone activity would represent a previously unrecognized function for cytokines.

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