International Mammalian Genome Society

17th International Mouse Genome Conference

9-12 November 2003, Braunschweig, Germany


Kas M
Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, University Medical Centre Utrecht , The Netherlands

Co-Authors: 2) Spruijt B, 3) Olivier B, 1) van Ree J, 1) Adan RAH, 2) van Lith H, 2) van Oost BA, 1) Burbach J
Institutions: 1) Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, University Medical Centre Utrecht, The Netherlands, 2) Veterinary Medicine, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands 3) Department of Psychopharmacology, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands

The genetic dissection of integrated behaviours requires refinement of behavioural phenotypes. The display and analysis of refined behavioural components have to be established by specific environmental conditions that elicit ethological needs. At present, behavioural studies are mainly conducted in short lasting dedicated tasks, thereby, ignoring behaviour normally displayed in the home cage.

Therefore, we constructed an enriched home cage that includes the possibility to provide auditory and visual stimuli at a certain time or when the animal is at a certain place. Longitudinal continuous behavioural observations in this cage are based on the automated analysis of video images (Noldus Information Technology, The Netherlands) and permit differentiation between stimulus-induced specific behaviours, baseline and novelty behavioural patterns and rhythmicity. Moreover, it prevents the confounding influence of the effect of human interference, such as transport, on behavioural characteristics.

So far, differences between inbred mice strains could be distinguished by analyzing features of their locomotor patterns. For example, C57bl6 mice display extensive exploration behaviour when compared to Sv129 mice, whereas, Sv129 mice prefer sheltered areas in the home cage when compared to C57bl6 mice. We also showed that these strain-specific behavioural patterns were observed during novelty, but also in the days following placement in the cage. Thus, longitudinal automated behavioural observations in an enriched home cage allow dissociation of novelty- and baseline expression of locomotor activity patterns and exposure preferences in mice strains. The application of both reverse and forward genetic strategies will contribute to the genetic dissection of these normally integrated behavioural phenotypes.

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