|Allison Knoll, Ph.D.|
Dr. Knoll's Munroe-Meyer Institute Grand Rounds will be held from 3-4 p.m. Oct. 10 at the Durham Research Center, Room 1005, on the UNMC Omaha campus.
Humans exhibit broad heterogeneity in cognitive and social behavior, with the extremes of this continuum observed in many neurodevelopmental disorders. Twin and family studies show that individual differences in core dimensions of these behaviors are heritable, yet there are knowledge gaps in understanding the underlying genetic and neurobiological mechanisms.
Quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping in animal genetic reference panels (GRPs) is a tractable strategy for examining the behavioral and genetic architecture of complex traits. Using more than 50 recombinant inbred strains from a mouse GRP, Dr. Knoll and her colleagues identified heritable variation in fear learning and affiliative sociability, which are independent of variation in activity and anxiety-like traits.
Genome-wide mapping identified suggestive and significant QTLs for multiple traits and functional testing confirmed Hcn1 as a novel quantitative trait gene for fear learning.
These findings establish a basis for identifying gene networks underlying variation in complex behavior, leading to a new understanding of typical and atypical learning and sociability.