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Transcriptomic underpinnings of high and low mirror aggression zebrafsh behaviours.

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    • Abstract:
      Background: Aggression is an adaptive behaviour that animals use to protect ofspring, defend themselves and obtain resources. Zebrafsh, like many other animals, are not able to recognize themselves in the mirror and typically respond to their own refection with aggression. However, mirror aggression is not an all-or-nothing phenomenon, with some individuals displaying high levels of aggression against their mirror image, while others show none at all. In the current work, we have investigated the genetic basis of mirror aggression by using a classic forward genetics approach - selective breeding for high and low mirror aggression zebrafsh (HAZ and LAZ). Results: We characterized AB wild-type zebrafsh for their response to the mirror image. Both aggressive and nonaggressive fsh were inbred over several generations. We found that HAZ were on average more aggressive than the corresponding LAZ across generations and that the most aggressive adult HAZ were less anxious than the least aggressive adult LAZ after prolonged selective breeding. RNAseq analysis of these fsh revealed that hundreds of protein-encoding genes with important diverse biological functions such as arsenic metabolism (as3mt), cell migration (arl4ab), immune system activity (ptgr1), actin cytoskeletal remodelling (wdr1), corticogenesis (dgcr2), protein dephosphorylation (ublcp1), sialic acid metabolism (st6galnac3) and ketone body metabolism (aacs) were diferentially expressed between HAZ and LAZ, suggesting a strong genetic contribution to this phenotype. DAVID pathway analysis showed that a number of diverse pathways are enriched in HAZ over LAZ including pathways related to immune function, oxidation-reduction processes and cell signalling. In addition, weighted gene co-expression network analysis (WGCNA) identifed 12 modules of highly correlated genes that were signifcantly associated with aggression duration and/or experimental group. Conclusions: The current study shows that selective breeding based of the mirror aggression phenotype induces strong, heritable changes in behaviour and gene expression within the brain of zebrafsh suggesting a strong genetic basis for this behaviour. Our transcriptomic analysis of fsh selectively bred for high and low levels of mirror aggression revealed specifc transcriptomic signatures induced by selective breeding and mirror aggression and thus provides a large and novel resource of candidate genes for future study. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
    • Abstract:
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