A Molecular Mechanism of Oxtr Gene Regulation Through a Single CpG Site

Author: ORCID icon orcid.org/0000-0001-7641-1461
Whelan, Emma, Psychology - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Whelan, Emma, AS-Psychology (PSYC), University of Virginia

The parent-offspring dyad is critical in preparing offspring for their future environment (Yoshihara et al 2018; Esposito et al, 2019). This relationship encompasses a variety of actions including proximity of parent to offspring, engagement, and thermoregulation (Mateo, 2014). Variation in early parental care can modulate offspring developmental outcomes through epigenetic tuning of genes involved in social behavior (Perkeybile et al, 2019; Krol et al, 2019). The oxytocin signaling pathway has been extensively studied in relation to its effect on social behavior through epigenetic changes of the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR), acquired through variable parental care. However, the mechanism of change in expression has yet to be fully deduced. This study seeks to provide functional evidence that environmentally induced DNA methylation of key CpG sites within Oxtr results in a transcriptional response in the monogamous prairie vole. We provide preliminary evidence that by creating a germline knockout of a single key CpG site from a CpG rich region (MT2) within Oxtr, the epigenetic state of the gene is altered and results in a change in Oxtr RNA expression.

MA (Master of Arts)
Oxytocin Receptor, iGONAD, Epigenetics, DNA Methylation
Issued Date: