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Mamm Genome. 2007 Apr;18(4):221-8. Epub 2007 May 10.

Genetic architecture of fear conditioning in chromosome substitution strains: relationship to measures of innate (unlearned) anxiety-like behavior.

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Department of Genetics and Development, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA.


We measured fear conditioning (FC) in a panel of chromosome substitution strains (CSS) created using the C57BL/6J (B6) and A/J (AJ) inbred strains. Mice were trained to associate a specific context and tone with a foot shock. FC was measured by observing freezing behavior during re-exposure to the context and tone. Freezing to context was more than twofold greater in the AJ strain relative to the B6 strain. Among the CSS we identified four strains with higher (CSS-6, -10, -11, and -18) and two strains with lower (CSS-7 and -14) freezing to context. CSS-10 and -18 also showed higher freezing to tone, while CSS-12 showed less freezing to tone. CSS-1 has been implicated in open-field (OF) and light-dark box (LDB); we observed significant activity differences prior to training but no differences in FC. Chromosomes 6 and 10 have been associated with differences in anxiety-like behaviors, suggesting the existence of pleiotropic alleles that influence both learned and innate fear. By utilizing a genetic reference population, we have identified chromosomes that pleiotropically influence multiple phenotypes hypothesized to reflect a common ethologic construct that has been termed emotionality. The CSS provide a straightforward means of isolating the underlying genetic factors.

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