Okuyama T, Yokoi S, Abe H, Isoe Y, Suehiro Y, Imada H, Tanaka M, Kawasaki T, Yuba S, Taniguchi Y, Kamei Y, Okubo K, Shimada A, Naruse K, Takeda H, Oka Y, Kubo T, Takeuchi H.
Social familiarity affects mating preference among various vertebrates. Here, we show that visual contact of a potential mating partner before mating (visual familiarization) enhances female preference for the familiarized male, but not for an unfamiliarized male, in medaka fish. Terminal-nerve gonadotropin-releasing hormone 3 (TN-GnRH3) neurons, an extrahypothalamic neuromodulatory system, function as a gate for activating mating preferences based on familiarity. Basal levels of TN-GnRH3 neuronal activity suppress female receptivity for any male (default mode). Visual familiarization facilitates TN-GnRH3 neuron activity (preference mode), which correlates with female preference for the familiarized male. GnRH3 peptides, which are synthesized specifically in TN-GnRH3 neurons, are required for the mode-switching via self-facilitation. Our study demonstrates the central neural mechanisms underlying the regulation of medaka female mating preference based on visual social familiarity.