Insight into the genetic differences in gene expression associated with different levels of drinking may lead to a better understanding of alcoholism. Genetic studies of alcoholism have long confirmed the complexity of the disease and uncovering the underlying molecular mechanisms remains a formidable task.
The meta-analysis was completed by Susan Bergeson, an assistant professor of neurobiology at The University of Texas at Austin, and a multi-site research team participating in a National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism supported Integrative Neuroscience Initiative on Alcoholism (INIA). It has led to new insights into the genetics of the predisposition to drink alcohol.
"What our results do is essentially generate candidate genes to be tested," Bergeson said. "Many of the genes we identified have never previously been implicated in alcohol drinking, including several whose function remains completely unknown."
The analysis involved nine mouse models, which differed in their levels of alcohol consumption. None of the mice were exposed to alcohol because the focus of the experiment was to study the genetic predisposition to drink alcohol.
Gene expression in the brain was assayed using microarray analysis, and a novel statistical approach to the meta-analysis identified nearly 4,000 differentially regulated genes between the high and low alcohol consuming mice.
The INIA investigators narrowed the significant changes using three different approaches:
An overlap analysis between human and mouse was completed using chromosomal regions shown to be associated with drinking and alcohol dependence in previously reported gene
Contact: Tim Green
University of Texas at Austin