, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 223-243

Genetic and Structural Analysis of the Basolateral Amygdala Complex in BXD Recombinant Inbred Mice

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Abstract

The amygdala integrates and coordinates emotional and autonomic responses. The genetics that underlie variation in amygdala structure may be coupled to variation in levels of aggression, fear, anxiety, and affiliated behaviors. We systematically quantified the volume and cell populations of the basolateral amygdala complex (BLAc) across 35 BXD recombinant inbred (RI) lines, the parental strains—C57BL/6J (B6) and DBA/2J (D2)—and F1 hybrids (n cases = 199, bilateral analysis). Neuron number and volume vary 1.7- to 2-fold among strains (e.g., neuron number ranged from 88,000 to 170,000). Glial and endothelial populations ranged more widely (5- to 8-fold), in part because of higher technical error. A quantitative trait locus (QTL) for the BLAc size is located on chromosome (Chr) 8 near the Large gene. This locus may also influence volume of other regions including hippocampus and cerebellum. Cell populations in the BLAc appear to be modulated more weakly by loci on Chrs 11 and 13. Candidate genes were selected on the basis of correlation with BLAc traits, chromosomal location, single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) density, and expression patterns in the Allen Brain Atlas. Neurod2, a gene shown to be significant for the formation of the BLAc by knockout studies, is among the candidates genes. Other candidates include Large, and Thra. Responses to drugs of abuse and locomotor activity were the most notable behavioral correlates of the BLAc traits.

Edited by Gene Fisch