Mammalian genome : official journal of the International Mammalian Genome Society

Quantitative trait locus analysis identifies Gabra3 as a regulator of behavioral despair in mice.

PMID 20512339


The Tail Suspension Test (TST), which measures behavioral despair, is widely used as an animal model of human depressive disorders and antidepressant efficacy. In order to identify novel genes involved in the regulation of TST performance, we crossed an inbred strain exhibiting low immobility in the TST (RIIIS/J) with two high-immobility strains (C57BL/6J and NZB/BlNJ) to create two distinct F2 hybrid populations. All F2 offspring (n = 655) were genotyped at high density with a panel of SNP markers. Whole-genome interval mapping of the F2 populations identified statistically significant quantitative trait loci (QTLs) on mouse chromosomes (MMU) 4, 6, and X. Microarray analysis of hippocampal gene expression in the three parental strains was used to identify potential candidate genes within the MMUX QTLs identified in the NZB/BlNJ x RIIIS/J cross. Expression of Gabra3, which encodes the GABA(A) receptor alpha3 subunit, was robust in the hippocampus of B6 and RIIIS mice but absent from NZB hippocampal tissue. To verify the role of Gabra3 in regulating TST behavior in vivo, mice were treated with SB-205384, a positive modulator of the alpha3 subunit. SB-205384 significantly reduced TST immobility in B6 mice without affecting general activity, but it had no effect on behavior in NZB mice. This work suggests that GABRA3 regulates a behavioral endophenotype of depression and establishes this gene as a viable new target for the study and treatment of human depression.

Related Materials