Title

Cell-specific effects of MeCP2 on aggression using Drosophila as a model organism

Presentation Type

Poster

Abstract

Rett Syndrome is a severe neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by a loss or reduction in methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 (MeCP2) expression. Symptoms include loss of motor function, social problems, increased aggression, unusual stereotyped movements, and learning disability. When the MeCP2 gene is duplicated in males, MeCP2 duplication disorder results. The symptoms of MeCP2 duplication disorder include mental retardation, hypotonia, recurrent respiratory infections, epilepsy, limited or absent speech, progressive spasticity, and stereotyped movements of hands. MeCP2 is expressed in nearly all the cells of the nervous system. In this study, we are testing if human MeCP2 expression in octopamine neurons (invertebrate equivalent to norepinephrine) and specific glial cells causes changes in male aggressive behavior. We are using octopamine neurons since the behavioral changes associated with MeCP2 related disorders in humans suggest changes to neurons which affect behavior such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine neurons. To answer this question, we are using the model organism, Drosophila melanogaster, as male aggression in fruit flies is a robust, easily observed innate behavior. In order to test aggression, we place two males of the same genotype into a fight chamber where they compete for food at territory. After the fight is finished, the aggressive behaviors are quantified as latency to lunge (aggressive behavior), latency to encounter, and total number of lunges. Drosophila males expressing MeCP2 in octopamine neurons take nearly 1000 seconds longer to first encounter and first lunge, and lunge significantly less than control males. When expressing MeCP2 in astrocytes, latency to encounter and latency to aggression are also significantly increased indicating it takes longer for the experimental males to start fighting. Our results demonstrate that MeCP2 expressed in either astrocytes or octopamine neurons affect aggressive behaviors in Drosophila.

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Apr 12th, 3:00 PM Apr 12th, 4:00 PM

Cell-specific effects of MeCP2 on aggression using Drosophila as a model organism

UC Ballroom

Rett Syndrome is a severe neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by a loss or reduction in methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 (MeCP2) expression. Symptoms include loss of motor function, social problems, increased aggression, unusual stereotyped movements, and learning disability. When the MeCP2 gene is duplicated in males, MeCP2 duplication disorder results. The symptoms of MeCP2 duplication disorder include mental retardation, hypotonia, recurrent respiratory infections, epilepsy, limited or absent speech, progressive spasticity, and stereotyped movements of hands. MeCP2 is expressed in nearly all the cells of the nervous system. In this study, we are testing if human MeCP2 expression in octopamine neurons (invertebrate equivalent to norepinephrine) and specific glial cells causes changes in male aggressive behavior. We are using octopamine neurons since the behavioral changes associated with MeCP2 related disorders in humans suggest changes to neurons which affect behavior such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine neurons. To answer this question, we are using the model organism, Drosophila melanogaster, as male aggression in fruit flies is a robust, easily observed innate behavior. In order to test aggression, we place two males of the same genotype into a fight chamber where they compete for food at territory. After the fight is finished, the aggressive behaviors are quantified as latency to lunge (aggressive behavior), latency to encounter, and total number of lunges. Drosophila males expressing MeCP2 in octopamine neurons take nearly 1000 seconds longer to first encounter and first lunge, and lunge significantly less than control males. When expressing MeCP2 in astrocytes, latency to encounter and latency to aggression are also significantly increased indicating it takes longer for the experimental males to start fighting. Our results demonstrate that MeCP2 expressed in either astrocytes or octopamine neurons affect aggressive behaviors in Drosophila.