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Is there a genomically imprinted social brain?



Imprinted genes (IGs) are expressed or silenced according to their parent-of-origin. These genes are known to play a role in regulating offspring growth, development and infant behaviors such as suckling and ultrasonic calls. In adults, neurally expressed IGs coordinate several behaviors including maternal care, sex, feeding, emotionality, and cognition. However, despite evidence from human psychiatric disorders and evolutionary theory that maternally and paternally expressed genes should also regulate social behavior, little empirical data from mouse research exists. This paper discusses data from a recent study (Garfield et al., 2011) that the IG Grb10 governs unique aspects of mouse social behavior and interprets the relevance of these findings for the future of this field.

Editor's suggested further reading in BioEssays Epigenetics and the brain: Transcriptome sequencing reveals new depths to genomic sequencingAbstract

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