Short Takes

August 2013 Issue

A Single Gene Keeps Mice Away From Cats

A specific gene affecting a mouse’s sense of smell helps it avoid predatory cats, according to research at Northwestern University. Neurobiologist Thomas Bozza, Ph.D., and his team found that removing an olfactory receptor responsible for detecting certain odors can impact a mouse’s survival. The gene, TAAR4, controls production of a receptor that detects a substance concentrated in carnivores’ urine. Usually, mice avoid the scent marks of predators, but those lacking the TAAR4 gene do not — and can end up as prey.

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