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Data from: Genetic variation in the developmental regulation of cortical avpr1a among prairie voles

Cite this dataset

Okhovat, Mariam et al. (2017). Data from: Genetic variation in the developmental regulation of cortical avpr1a among prairie voles [Dataset]. Dryad.


Early experiences can have enduring impacts on brain and behavior, but the strength of these effects can be influenced by genetic variation. In principle, polymorphic CpGs (polyCpGs) may contribute to gene-by-environment interactions (GxE) by altering DNA methylation. In this study, we investigate the influence of polyCpGs on the development of vasopressin receptor 1a abundance in the retrosplenial cortex (RSC-V1aR) of prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster). Two alternative alleles (HI/LO) predict RSC avpr1a expression, V1aR abundance and sexual fidelity in adulthood; these alleles differ in the frequency of CpG sites and in methylation at a putative intron enhancer. We hypothesized that the elevated CpG abundance in LO alleles would make homozygous LO/LO voles more sensitive to developmental perturbations. We found that genotype differences in RSC-V1aR abundance emerged early in ontogeny and were accompanied by differences in methylation of the putative enhancer. As predicted, postnatal treatment with an oxytocin receptor antagonist (OTA) reduced RSC-V1aR abundance in LO/LO adults but not their HI/HI siblings. Similarly, methylation inhibition by zebularine increased RSC-V1aR in LO/LO adults, but not in HI/HI siblings. These data demonstrate a gene-by-environment interaction in RSC-V1aR. Surprisingly, however, neither OTA nor zebularine altered adult methylation of the intronic enhancer, suggesting that differences in sensitivity could not be explained by CpG density at the enhancer alone. Methylated DNA immunoprecipiation-sequencing (MeDIP-seq) revealed additional differentially methylated regions between HI/HI and LO/LO voles. Future research should examine the role of these regions and other regulatory elements in the ontogeny of RSC-V1aR and its developmentally induced changes.

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National Science Foundation, Award: IOS-1457350, IOS-1355188