Rodent Behavioral Core

Jennifer T. Wolstenholme and Darlene Brunzell

Alcohol use disorders (AUD) have a clear genetic component. The VCU-ARC and its collaborators seek to better understand the genetics of AUD through cross-species studies. These efforts have generated several candidate genes for ethanol-responsive behaviors and/or AUD such as slo-1 (KCNMA1), GSK3β, and Clic4. The Rodent Behavioral Core expands the investigation of these genes by studying the consequences of manipulating these and other newly identified candidate genes in a rodent behavioral battery that models (captures) specific aspects of acute ethanol sensitivity, consumption, and seeking behavior. To do this, we use conditional genetically-modified mice or viral transgene delivery to mouse or rat brain. Pharmacological manipulation is also used if highly-specific reagents are available. The primary purpose of this core is to deepen our understanding of the genetic basis of AUD by systematically assessing the putative role of the highest-priority candidate genes, identified by the VCU-ARC and its collaborators, in AUD. This is done in rodent models by correlating the impact of experimentally manipulating candidate gene expression levels to a particular rodent behavioral response to ethanol. The data produced by this core will provide valuable insight into the genetic basis of the complex behavioral and neurobiological adaptations that develop as a consequence of either acute or repeated ethanol exposure. This new knowledge will aid in the development of interventions for the prevention and/or treatment of AUD.