Opposing alterations in anxiety and species-typical behaviours in serotonin transporter overexpressor and knockout mice.
Line SJ., Barkus C., Coyle C., Jennings KA., Deacon RM., Lesch KP., Sharp T., Bannerman DM.
Human gene association studies have produced conflicting findings regarding the relationship between the 5-HT transporter (5-HTT) and anxiety. In the present study genetically modified mice were utilised to examine the effects of changes in 5-HTT expression on anxiety. In addition, the influence of 5-HTT expression on two innate "species-typical" behaviours (burrowing and marble burying) and body weight was explored. Across a range of models, 5-HTT overexpressing mice displayed reduced anxiety-like behaviour whilst 5-HTT knockout mice showed increased anxiety-like behaviour, compared to wildtype controls. In tests of species-typical behaviour 5-HTT overexpressing mice showed some facilitation whilst 5-HTT knockout mice were impaired. Reciprocal effects were also seen on body weight, as 5-HTT overexpressors were lighter and 5-HTT knockouts were heavier than wildtype controls. These findings show that variation in 5-HTT gene expression produces robust changes in anxiety and species-typical behaviour. Furthermore, the data add further support to findings that variation of 5-HTT expression in the human population is linked to changes in anxiety-related personality traits.