Brains of mice contain different cells in a region in the hypothalamus called the ventrolateral subdivision of the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMHvl), a new study has revealed.
According to the study by scientists from the California Institute of Technology and the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle, there are differences in the mammalian's brains at its cellular structure and subtle variations in gene expression.
Scientists explained some of these cell types, typically found in mice, were greater in numbers among the rodents of one gender or the other, but another newly identified cell type was specific only to female mice and not found at all in male mice.
These differences, suggested the study published in journal Cell, were not a direct result of contrasting sex chromosomes.
David Anderson, a senior researcher at Caltech, said their "functional significance still remained to be explained", but the hypothalamus regions where the cells were found controlled the aggression and mating behaviours in mice.
The researchers observed 17 distinct cell types in this tiny region of the brain by analyzing the gene expression in individual cells with the help of advanced transcriptomic techniques that study a complete set of RNA transcripts produced by the genome.
These distinct brain cells were then verified with the help of glowing genetic tags in a process called fluoro in-situ hybridization.
The researchers said the findings had not been tested in other mammal species as yet, but they planned to further investigate the brains of other animals and also discover the functions of these different cell types in the rodents.