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Genes Brain Behav. 2010 Aug;9(6):575-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-183X.2010.00588.x. Epub 2010 Apr 12.

Epigenetic regulation of serotonin transporter expression and behavior in infant rhesus macaques.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA. ek2500@columbia.edu

Erratum in

Abstract

Epigenetic mechanisms may moderate genetic and environmental risk (GxE) for mood disorders. We used an experimental rhesus macaque model of early life stress to test whether epigenetic regulation of serotonin transporter (5-HTT) may contribute to GxE interactions that influence behavior and emotion. We hypothesized that peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) DNA methylation within an 800 bp cytosine-phosphate-guanosine (CpG) island that overlaps with the 5-HTT transcription initiation start site, a hypothesized model of the same genomic region in brain tissue, would mediate or moderate the effects of early life stress and a functional 5-HTT promoter polymorphism (rh5-HTTLPR) on two outcomes: PBMC 5-HTT expression and behavioral stress reactivity. Eighty-seven infant rhesus macaques (3-4 months of age) were either mother reared in large social groups (n = 70) or nursery reared (n = 17). During a maternal/social separation, infants' blood was sampled and behavioral stress reactivity recorded. PBMC DNA and RNA samples were used to determine rh5-HTTLPR genotype, 5-HTT mRNA expression using quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) and 5-HTT CpG methylation status using sodium bisulfite pyrosequencing. Consistent with human data, carriers of the low-expressing rh5-HTTLPR alleles exhibited higher mean 5-HTT CpG methylation, which was associated with lower PBMC 5-HTT expression. Higher 5-HTT CpG methylation, but not rh5-HTTLPR genotype, exacerbated the effects of early life stress on behavioral stress reactivity in infants. 5-HTT CpG methylation may be an important regulator of 5-HTT expression early in development and may contribute to the risk for mood disorders observed in 'high-risk'5-HTTLPR carriers.

PMID:
20398062
PMCID:
PMC2921011
DOI:
10.1111/j.1601-183X.2010.00588.x
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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