Mice have been used for research in nearly every field, be it medicine, psychology or genetics. In one recent finding regarding genetics study on mice published in the BMC Genetics journal, scientists have managed to turn mice gay by simply altering their genome structure.
How so? Well, it seems a group of scientists from Korea’s Advanced Institute of Science and Technology have managed to alter the sexual habits of female mice by removing a single gene, called FucM (yes, I know. I laughed out loud at this too), that apparently is linked to sexual behavior in mice. Scientists observed how the female mice deprived of the FucM gene in embryo stage, after reaching sexual maturity, started to refuse advanced from male mice, and in turn tried to mate with female mice. Simply put, they’ve turned the female mice into lesbians!
Lead author, professor Chankyu Park, of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea, said: “The mutant female mouse underwent a slightly altered developmental program in the brain to resemble the male brain in terms of sexual preference.”
Scientists have long sought after a link between homosexual orientation and genes, however this particular research does nothing to suggest there’s the same connection in humans – it just proves there is in rodents. By deleting the enzyme-producing gene, the scientists believe that they caused the female mice to be exposed to extra oestrogen, by preventing their brains from filtering out the hormone.
The thing is, while oestrogen masculinises the brain in mice, it does not have the same effect in humans.
The research still is of immense interest, and professor Park stated he’ll soon begin work on his new research to see whether the enzyme produced by the gene – fucose mutarotase – has any influence on human sexuality. He admits, however, that he still doesn’t know where to find volunteers for this kind of project…
Enjoyed this article? Join 40,000+ subscribers to the ZME Science newsletter. Subscribe now!