Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Dr. Andrew N. Clancy - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Sarah L. Pallas

Third Advisor

Dr. Laura L. Carruth


Male rat copulation is mediated by estrogen-sensitive neurons in the medial preoptic area (MPO) and medial amygdala (MEA); however, the mechanisms through which estradiol (E2) acts are not fully understood. We hypothesized that E2 acts through estrogen receptor α (ERα) in the MPO and MEA to promote male mating behavior. Antisense oligodeoxyneucleotides (AS-ODN) complementary to ERα mRNA were bilaterally infused via minipumps into either brain area to block the synthesis of ERα, which we predicted would reduce mating. Western blot analysis and immunocytochemistry revealed a knockdown of ERα in each brain region; however, compared to saline controls, males receiving AS-ODN to the MPO showed significant reductions in all components of mating, whereas males receiving AS-ODN to the MEA continued to mate normally. These results suggest that E2 acts differently in these brain regions to express sexual behavior and that ERα in the MPO, but not in the MEA, promotes mating.


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