Biological Basis of Behavior Program

The Biological Basis of Behavior Program (BBB) is an interdisciplinary major in which students explore biological, psychological, computational and clinical approaches to understand the nervous system as the biological basis of behavior, as well as perception, memory, motivation, and emotion. The BBB program, created in 1978 as one of the first neuroscience undergraduate programs in the country, allows students to explore a broad range of topics in the neural sciences through courses taught by faculty and staff in several departments in the School of Arts and Sciences and the Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine.

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Now showing 1 - 10 of 15
  • Publication
    HDAC I Inhibition in the Dorsal and Ventral Hippocampus Differentially Modulates Predator-Odor Fear Learning and Generalization
    (2015-09-22) Yuan, Robin K; Thomas, Arthur S; Hebert, Jenna C; Wann, Ellen G; Muzzio, Isabel A
    Although predator odors are ethologically relevant stimuli for rodents, the molecular pathways and contribution of some brain regions involved in predator odor conditioning remain elusive. Inhibition of histone deacetylases (HDACs) in the dorsal hippocampus has been shown to enhance shock-induced contextual fear learning, but it is unknown if HDACs have differential effects along the dorso-ventral hippocampal axis during predator odor fear learning. We injected MS-275, a class I HDAC inhibitor, bilaterally in the dorsal or ventral hippocampus of mice and found that it had no effects on innate anxiety in either region. We then assessed the effects of MS-275 at different stages of fear learning along the longitudinal hippocampal axis. Animals were injected with MS-275 or vehicle after context pre-exposure (pre-conditioning injections), when a representation of the context is first formed, or after exposure to coyote urine (post-conditioning injections), when the context becomes associated with predator odor. When MS-275 was administered after context pre-exposure, dorsally injected animals showed enhanced fear in the training context but were able to discriminate it from a neutral environment. Conversely, ventrally injected animals did not display enhanced learning in the training context but generalized the fear response to a neutral context. However, when MS-275 was administered after conditioning, there were no differences between the MS-275 and vehicle control groups in either the dorsal or ventral hippocampus. Surprisingly, all groups displayed generalization to a neutral context, suggesting that predator odor exposure followed by a mild stressor such as restraint leads to fear generalization. These results may elucidate distinct functions of the dorsal and ventral hippocampus in predator odor-induced fear conditioning as well as some of the molecular mechanisms underlying fear generalization.
  • Publication
    Ventromedial Frontal Lobe Damage Disrupts Value Maximization in Humans
    (2011-05-18) Camille, Nathalie; Griffiths, Cathryn A; Vo, Khoi; Fellows, Lesley K; Kable, Joseph W
    Recent work in neuroeconomics has shown that regions in orbitofrontal and medial prefrontal cortex encode the subjective value of different options during choice. However, these electrophysiological and neuroimaging studies cannot demonstrate whether such signals are necessary for value-maximizing choices. Here we used a paradigm developed in experimental economics to empirically measure and quantify violations of utility theory in humans with damage to the ventromedial frontal lobe (VMF). We show that people with such damage are more likely to make choices that violate the generalized axiom of revealed preference, which is the one necessary and sufficient condition for choices to be consistent with value maximization. These results demonstrate that the VMF plays a critical role in value-maximizing choice.
  • Publication
    HDAC6 Regulates Glucocorticoid Receptor Signaling in Serotonin Pathways with Critical Impact on Stress Resilience
    (2012-03-28) Teegarden, Sarah L; Challis, Collin; Jochems, Jeanine; Espallergues, Julie; Veerakumar, Avin; Boulden, Janette; Hahn, Chang-Gyu; Lucki, Irwin; Chan, Michael; Beck, Sheryl G; Petersen, Tess; Deneris, Evan; Matthias, Patrick; Berton, Olivier
    Genetic variations in certain components of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) chaperone complex have been associated with the development of stress-related affective disorders and individual variability in therapeutic responses to antidepressants. Mechanisms that link GR chaperoning and stress susceptibility are not well understood. Here, we show that the effects of glucocorticoid hormones on socioaffective behaviors are critically regulated via reversible acetylation of Hsp90, a key component of the GR chaperone complex. We provide pharmacological and genetic evidence indicating that the cytoplasmic lysine deacetylase HDAC6 controls Hsp90 acetylation in the brain, and thereby modulates Hsp90–GR protein–protein interactions, as well as hormone- and stress-induced GR translocation, with a critical impact on GR downstream signaling and behavior. Pet1-Cre-driven deletion of HDAC6 in serotonin neurons, the densest HDAC6-expressing cell group in the mouse brain, dramatically reduced acute anxiogenic effects of the glucocorticoid hormone corticosterone in the open-field, elevated plus maze, and social interaction tests. Serotonin-selective depletion of HDAC6 also blocked the expression of social avoidance in mice exposed to chronic social defeat and concurrently prevented the electrophysiological and morphological changes induced, in serotonin neurons, by this murine model of traumatic stress. Together, these results identify HDAC6 inhibition as a potential new strategy for proresilience and antidepressant interventions through regulation of the Hsp90–GR heterocomplex and focal prevention of GR signaling in serotonin pathways. Our data thus uncover an alternate mechanism by which pan-HDAC inhibitors may regulate stress-related behaviors independently of their action on histones.
  • Publication
    Amelioration of Binge Eating by Nucleus Accumbens Shell Deep Brain Stimulation in Mice Involves D2 Receptor Modulation
    (2013-04-24) Halpern, Casey H; Tekriwal, Anand; Santollo, Jessica; Wolf, John A; Keating, Jeffrey G; Bale, Tracy; Daniels, Derek
    Hedonic overconsumption contributing to obesity involves altered activation within the mesolimbic dopamine system. Dysregulation of dopamine signaling in the nucleus accumbens shell (NAS) has been implicated in reward-seeking behaviors, such as binge eating, which contributes to treatment resistance in obesity (Wise, 2012). Direct modulation of the NAS with deep brain stimulation (DBS), a surgical procedure currently under investigation in humans for the treatment of major depression, obsessive–compulsive disorder, and addiction, may also be effective in ameliorating binge eating. Therefore, we examined the ability of DBS of the NAS to block this behavior in mice. c-Fos immunoreactivity was assessed as a marker of DBS-mediated neuronal activation. NAS DBS was found to reduce binge eating and increased c-Fos levels in this region. DBS of the dorsal striatum had no influence on this behavior, demonstrating anatomical specificity for this effect. The dopamine D2 receptor antagonist, raclopride, attenuated the action of DBS, whereas the D1 receptor antagonist, SCH-23390, was ineffective, suggesting that dopamine signaling involving D2 receptors underlies the effect of NAS DBS. To determine the potential translational relevance to the obese state, chronic NAS DBS was also examined in diet-induced obese mice and was found to acutely reduce caloric intake and induce weight loss. Together, these findings support the involvement of the mesolimbic dopamine pathways in the hedonic mechanisms contributing to obesity, and the efficacy of NAS DBS to modulate this system.
  • Publication
    Gravin Orchestrates Protein Kinase A and β2-Adrenergic Receptor Signaling Critical for Synaptic Plasticity and Memory
    (2012-12-02) Havekes, Robbert; Canton, David A; Park, Alan J; Huang, Ted; Nie, Ting; Day, Jonathan P; Guercio, Leonardo A; Grimes, Quinn; Luczak, Vincent G; Gelman, Irwin H; Baillie, George S
    A kinase-anchoring proteins (AKAPs) organize compartmentalized pools of protein kinase A (PKA) to enable localized signaling events within neurons. However, it is unclear which of the many expressed AKAPs in neurons target PKA to signaling complexes important for long-lasting forms of synaptic plasticity and memory storage. In the forebrain, the anchoring protein gravin recruits a signaling complex containing PKA, PKC, calmodulin, and PDE4D (phosphodiesterase 4D) to the β2-adrenergic receptor. Here, we show that mice lacking the α-isoform of gravin have deficits in PKA-dependent long-lasting forms of hippocampal synaptic plasticity including β2-adrenergic receptor-mediated plasticity, and selective impairments of long-term memory storage. Furthermore, both hippocampal β2-adrenergic receptor phosphorylation by PKA, and learning-induced activation of ERK in the CA1 region of the hippocampus are attenuated in mice lacking gravin-α. We conclude that gravin compartmentalizes a significant pool of PKA that regulates learning-induced β2-adrenergic receptor signaling and ERK activation in the hippocampus in vivo, thereby organizing molecular interactions between glutamatergic and noradrenergic signaling pathways for long-lasting synaptic plasticity, and memory storage.
  • Publication
    Remyelination Reporter Reveals Prolonged Refinement of Spontaneously Regenerated Myelin
    (2013-03-05) Powers, Berit E; Sellers, Drew L; Lovelett, Emilie A; Cheung, Willy; Aalami, Sheida A; Zapertov, Nikolai; Maris, Don O; Horner, Phillip J
    Neurological diseases and trauma often cause demyelination, resulting in the disruption of axonal function and integrity. Endogenous remyelination promotes recovery, but the process is not well understood because no method exists to definitively distinguish regenerated from preexisting myelin. To date, remyelinated segments have been defined as anything abnormally short and thin, without empirical data to corroborate these morphological assumptions. To definitively identify regenerated myelin, we used a transgenic mouse with an inducible membrane-bound reporter and targeted Cre recombinase expression to a subset of glial progenitor cells after spinal cord injury, yielding remarkably clear visualization of spontaneously regenerated myelin in vivo. Early after injury, the mean length of sheaths regenerated by Schwann cells and oligodendrocytes (OLs) was significantly shorter than control, uninjured myelin, confirming past assumptions. However, OL-regenerated sheaths elongated progressively over 6 mo to approach control values. Moreover, OL-regenerated myelin thickness was not significantly different from control myelin at most time points after injury. Thus, many newly formed OL sheaths were neither thinner nor shorter than control myelin, vitiating accepted dogmas of what constitutes regenerated myelin. We conclude that remyelination, once thought to be static, is dynamic and elongates independently of axonal growth, in contrast to stretch-based mechanisms proposed in development. Further, without clear identification, past assessments have underestimated the extent and quality of regenerated myelin.
  • Publication
    NR4A Nuclear Receptors Support Memory Enhancement by Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
    (2012-10-01) Hawk, Joshua Davis; Poplawski, Shane Gary; Bridi, Morgan; Sulewski, Michael E; Bookout, Angie L; Abel, Ted; Rao, Allison J; Kroener, Brian T; Manglesdorf, David J
    The formation of a long-lasting memory requires a transcription-dependent consolidation period that converts a short-term memory into a long-term memory. Nuclear receptors compose a class of transcription factors that regulate diverse biological processes, and several nuclear receptors have been implicated in memory formation. Here, we examined the potential contribution of nuclear receptors to memory consolidation by measuring the expression of all 49 murine nuclear receptors after learning. We identified 13 nuclear receptors with increased expression after learning, including all 3 members of the Nr4a subfamily. These CREB-regulated Nr4a genes encode ligand-independent “orphan” nuclear receptors. We found that blocking NR4A activity in memory-supporting brain regions impaired long-term memory but did not impact short-term memory in mice. Further, expression of Nr4a genes increased following the memory-enhancing effects of histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors. Blocking NR4A signaling interfered with the ability of HDAC inhibitors to enhance memory. These results demonstrate that the Nr4a gene family contributes to memory formation and is a promising target for improving cognitive function.
  • Publication
    Mechanically- and Chemically-Tunable Cell Culture System to Study Myofibroblast Phenotype
    (2014-05-01) Saums, Michele K; Wang, Weifeng; Han, Biao; Madhavan, Lakshmi; Lee, Daeyeon; Han, Lin; Wells, Rebecca G
    Cell culture systems for studying the combined effects of matrix proteins and mechanical forces on the behavior of soft tissue cells have not been well developed. Here, we describe a new biomimetic cell culture system that allows for the study of mixtures of matrix proteins while controlling mechanical stiffness in a range that is physiological for soft tissues. This system consists of layer-by-layer (LbL)-assembled films of native matrix proteins atop mechanically tunable soft supports. We used hepatic stellate cells, which differentiate to myofibroblasts in liver fibrosis, for proof-of-concept studies. By culturing cells on collagen and lumican LbL-modified hydrogels, we demonstrate that this system is noncytotoxic and offers a valid control substrate, that the hydrogel determines the overall system mechanics, and that the addition of lumican to collagen influences the stellate cell phenotype. LbL-modified hydrogels offer the potential to study the influence of complex environmental factors on soft-tissue cells in culture.
  • Publication
    mGluR5-Antagonist Mediated Reversal of Elevated Stereotyped, Repetitive Behaviors in the VPA Model of Autism
    (2011-10-07) Mehta, Mili V; Gandal, Michael J.; Siegel, Steven J
    Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are highly disabling developmental disorders with a population prevalence of 1–3%. Despite a strong genetic etiology, there are no current therapeutic options that target the core symptoms of ASD. Emerging evidence suggests that dysfunction of glutamatergic signaling, in particular through metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGluR5) receptors, may contribute to phenotypic deficits and may be appropriate targets for pharmacologic intervention. This study assessed the therapeutic potential of 2-methyl-6-phenylethyl-pyrididine (MPEP), an mGluR5-receptor antagonist, on repetitive and anxiety-like behaviors in the valproic acid (VPA) mouse model of autism. Mice were exposed prenatally on day E13 to VPA and assessed for repetitive self-grooming and marble burying behaviors as adults. Anxiety-like behavior and locomotor activity were measured in an open-field. VPA-exposed mice displayed increased repetitive and anxiety-like behaviors, consistent with previously published results. Across both marble burying and self-grooming assays, MPEP significantly reduced repetitive behaviors in VPA-treated mice, but had no effect on locomotor activity. These results are consistent with emerging preclinical literature that mGluR5-antagonists may have therapeutic efficacy for core symptoms of autism.
  • Publication
    Dielectrophoretic Capture and Genetic Analysis of Single Neuroblastoma Cells
    (2014-07-31) Carpenter, Erica L; Rader, JulieAnn; Hallberg, Paul L; Ruden, Jacob; Rappaport, Eric F; O'Dwyer, Peter J; Hunter, Kristen N; Mosse, Yael; Krystka, Kate
    Our understanding of the diversity of cells that escape the primary tumor and seed micrometastases remains rudimentary, and approaches for studying circulating and disseminated tumor cells have been limited by low throughput and sensitivity, reliance on single parameter sorting, and a focus on enumeration rather than phenotypic and genetic characterization. Here, we utilize a highly sensitive microfluidic and dielectrophoretic approach for the isolation and genetic analysis of individual tumor cells. We employed fluorescence labeling to isolate 208 single cells from spiking experiments conducted with 11 cell lines, including 8 neuroblastoma cell lines, and achieved a capture sensitivity of 1 tumor cell per 106 white blood cells (WBCs). Sample fixation or freezing had no detectable effect on cell capture. Point mutations were accurately detected in the whole genome amplification product of captured single tumor cells but not in negative control WBCs. We applied this approach to capture 144 single tumor cells from 10 bone marrow samples of patients suffering from neuroblastoma. In this pediatric malignancy, high-risk patients often exhibit wide-spread hematogenous metastasis, but access to primary tumor can be difficult or impossible. Here, we used flow-based sorting to pre-enrich samples with tumor involvement below 0.02%. For all patients for whom a mutation in the Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase gene had already been detected in their primary tumor, the same mutation was detected in single cells from their marrow. These findings demonstrate a novel, non-invasive, and adaptable method for the capture and genetic analysis of single tumor cells from cancer patients.