Epigenetic Influences on Brain and Behavior

Summary

Principal Investigator: DAVID P CREWS
Abstract: This is an application directed toward the NIMH Exploratory/Developmental Grant (R21) program. This research described herein addresses the fundamental question of what determines behavioral variation and its neural underpinnings, in particular the relative roles of genetic and epigenetic factors in infancy in shaping adult brain and behavior. Specifically, this project will examine how the genotype of the offspring and the gender composition of the litter alters the nature of maternal care and how, in turn, this early maternal environment influences the neural underpinnings of sexual, aggressive, and maternal behaviors of the offspring when they become adults. The present proposal combines the skills of three researchers each expert in their respective fields (Crews: metabolic mapping of brain activity; Fleming: rat sexual and maternal behavior; Ogawa: knockout mouse aggressive and maternal behavior) and will utilize two mammalian model systems (knockout mice and the rat) in a new way, thereby developing a novel perspective from which to approach studies of brain organization and behavior. The overall goal of the proposed research is to develop an innovative research program that will provide both a new perspective and a set of techniques and methods that will aid exploration of gene-environment interactions, in particular our understanding of how the environment influences the relationship between genotype and behavior during sensitive developmental periods. There are three specific aims: Specific Aim I. To test the hypotheses that the gender and genotype composition of the litter alter patterns of maternal care. Specific Aim II. To determine if the sociosexual behavior of the young in adulthood are due to this differential behavior of the mother toward her young. Specific Aim III. To establish if the different behavioral profiles exhibited in such animals in adulthood are reflected in different patterns of activity in a network of interconnected limbic nuclei.
Funding Period: 2003-08-14 - 2006-07-31
more information: NIH RePORT

Top Publications

  1. pmc Epigenetic modifications of brain and behavior: theory and practice
    David Crews
    Section of Integrative Biology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA
    Horm Behav 59:393-8. 2011
  2. ncbi Deconstructing early life experiences: distinguishing the contributions of prenatal and postnatal factors to adult male sexual behavior in the rat
    Cynthia B de Medeiros
    Department of Psychology, University of Toronto at Mississauga
    Psychol Sci 21:1494-501. 2010
  3. ncbi Epigenetics, evolution, endocrine disruption, health, and disease
    David Crews
    Section of Integrative Biology, 2400 Speedway, University of Texas, Austin, Texas 78712, USA
    Endocrinology 147:S4-10. 2006
  4. pmc From gene networks underlying sex determination and gonadal differentiation to the development of neural networks regulating sociosexual behavior
    David Crews
    Section of Integrative Biology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA
    Brain Res 1126:109-21. 2006
  5. pmc Transgenerational epigenetic imprints on mate preference
    David Crews
    Section of Integrative Biology, University of Texas, Austin, TX 78712, USA
    Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 104:5942-6. 2007
  6. pmc Epigenetics and its implications for behavioral neuroendocrinology
    David Crews
    Section of Integrative Biology and Center of Behavioral Neuroendocrinology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA
    Front Neuroendocrinol 29:344-57. 2008

Scientific Experts

  • DAVID P CREWS
  • Cynthia B de Medeiros
  • Alison S Fleming
  • Stephanie L Rees
  • Maheleth Llinas

Detail Information

Publications6

  1. pmc Epigenetic modifications of brain and behavior: theory and practice
    David Crews
    Section of Integrative Biology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA
    Horm Behav 59:393-8. 2011
    ..Lastly, it seems intuitive that germline- and context-dependent epigenetic modifications interact, resulting in the individual variation observed in behaviors, but until now this hypothesis has never been tested experimentally...
  2. ncbi Deconstructing early life experiences: distinguishing the contributions of prenatal and postnatal factors to adult male sexual behavior in the rat
    Cynthia B de Medeiros
    Department of Psychology, University of Toronto at Mississauga
    Psychol Sci 21:1494-501. 2010
    ..The reported differences in sexual behavior did not vary with the quality of maternal behavior or with sexual experience in adulthood...
  3. ncbi Epigenetics, evolution, endocrine disruption, health, and disease
    David Crews
    Section of Integrative Biology, 2400 Speedway, University of Texas, Austin, Texas 78712, USA
    Endocrinology 147:S4-10. 2006
    ..We suggest a perspective for exploring and ultimately coming to understand diseases that may have environmental or endocrine origins...
  4. pmc From gene networks underlying sex determination and gonadal differentiation to the development of neural networks regulating sociosexual behavior
    David Crews
    Section of Integrative Biology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA
    Brain Res 1126:109-21. 2006
    ....
  5. pmc Transgenerational epigenetic imprints on mate preference
    David Crews
    Section of Integrative Biology, University of Texas, Austin, TX 78712, USA
    Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 104:5942-6. 2007
    ..Our observations provide direct experimental evidence for a role of epigenetics as a determinant factor in evolution...
  6. pmc Epigenetics and its implications for behavioral neuroendocrinology
    David Crews
    Section of Integrative Biology and Center of Behavioral Neuroendocrinology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA
    Front Neuroendocrinol 29:344-57. 2008
    ..This work raises the question of how events in generations past can have consequences at both the mechanistic, behavioral, and ultimately evolutionary levels...