Gene editing techniques could change social behavior

With the advent of gene editing techniques such as CRISPR-Cas9, humans have become able to alter gene sequences with extremely high accuracy for the purposes of treating diseases and correcting genetic defects. However, studies have been published showing that gene editing can have a significant impact not only on the biochemical pathways of the organism, but also on its social behavior.

CRISPR-Cas9 editing of the arginine–vasopressin V1a receptor produces paradoxical changes in social behavior in Syrian hamsters | PNAS

Gene Editing Can Change The Social Behavior of Animals in Unexpected Ways

A research team led by neuroscientist H. Elliott Albers of Georgia State University used CRISPR-Cas9 to edit genes that do not express the receptor Avpr1a on which the antidiuretic hormone vasopressin acts. I gave it to. In addition to its antidiuretic effect, vasopressin is also associated with social actions such as cooperation, communication, and attacks within the community. The researchers predicted that disabling Avpr1a would reduce the effects of vasopressin and reduce hamster social communication and aggressive behavior.

However, as a result of the experiment, hamsters without Avpr1a had a very high level of social communication and aggression. Gender differences in aggression have also disappeared, and both males and females have come to show high aggression against other individuals of the same sex. In addition, hamsters with high territorial awareness perform marking using odor glands to select the opposite sex, but hamsters without Avpr1a seem to have seen changes in this marking behavior.

'We knew that vasopressin acts in many areas of the brain to increase social activity, but its receptor, Avpr1a, may rather suppress the action of vasopressin,' Alvers said. We don't understand as much as we think about the system that associates behavior with our brain. This discovery is not just in specific areas of the brain, but throughout the brain. It shows that we need to think about the action of receptors. '

The research team also said that the results of this hamster experiment may be applicable to humans. Because hamsters have the same stress response as humans, how genes interact with the neural circuits of the brain and how genes control social behavior to establish communication with others. Further research may reveal it.

'It is important to understand the neural circuits involved in human social behavior, and our model can also be applied to our health. Understanding the role of basopresin in social behavior. Needs to find more effective and new treatment strategies for a diverse group of neuropsychiatric disorders ranging from autism to depression. '

in Science, Posted by log1i_yk