Researchers create first transgenic prairie voles

Dec 01, 2009

Researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, have successfully generated the first transgenic prairie voles, an important step toward unlocking the genetic secrets of pair bonding. The future application of this technology will enable scientists to perform a host of genetic manipulations that will help identify the brain mechanisms of social bonding and other complex social behaviors. This advancement may also have important implications for understanding and treating psychiatric disorders associated with impairments in social behavior. The study is available in the December issue of Biology of Reproduction.

Lead researcher Zoe Donaldson, PhD, and her colleagues adapted transgenic technology to the prairie vole, a naturally occurring monogamous rodent that is being used to discover the brain mechanisms underlying monogamous pair bonds.

"Domesticated lab rats and mice dominate biomedical research, but wild rodent species with more complex social behaviors are better suited for investigating the biology of the social brain. Until now, genetic engineering among rodents has been limited to and rats," says Donaldson.

Single-cell prairie vole embryos were injected with a lentivirus containing a gene found in glowing jellyfish. The gene encodes a green fluorescent protein, which glows under the appropriate conditions. The prairie vole that developed from this embryo expressed the green fluorescent protein throughout its body, and the foreign gene was passed on to the offspring for multiple generations.

Larry Young, PhD, a Yerkes-based senior investigator on the study and an expert in , will next use this technology to determine whether monogamy and its associated social behaviors can be affected by manipulating a single gene. Researchers are also investigating ways to refine this technology in order to alter gene expression in certain as well as at certain developmental milestones.

Source: Emory University (news : web)

Explore further: Computational method dramatically speeds up estimates of gene expression

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Multiple genes implicated in autism

Feb 09, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By pinpointing two genes that cause autism-like symptoms in mice, researchers at MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory have shown for the first time that multiple, interacting genetic risk factors ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 0

More news stories

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.

Low tolerance for pain? The reason may be in your genes

Researchers may have identified key genes linked to why some people have a higher tolerance for pain than others, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 66th Annual ...

How to keep your fitness goals on track

(HealthDay)—The New Year's resolutions many made to get fit have stalled by now. And one expert thinks that's because many people set their goals too high.