Deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) and congeneric species are used in a wide variety of research applications, particularly studies of developmental, physiologic, and behavioral characteristics associated with habitat adaptation and speciation. Because peromyscine mice readily adapt to colony conditions, animals with traits of interest in the field are moved easily into the laboratory where they can be studied under controlled conditions. The purpose of this study was to determine the serum chemistry and hematologic parameters of 4 frequently used species from the Peromyscus Genetic Stock Center species (P. californicus, P. leucopus, P. maniculatus, and P. polionotus) and to determine quantitative differences in these parameters among species and between sexes. Triglyceride values were substantially higher in female compared with male mice in all 4 species. Similar cross-species differences in MCH were present. Overall there was considerable interspecific variation for most blood parameters, with little evidence for covariation of any 2 or more parameters. Because crosses of P. maniculatus and P. polionotus produce fertile offspring, segregation analyses can be applied to determine the genetic basis of any traits that differ between them, such as their 3.8- and 2.1-fold interspecific differences in cholesterol and triglyceride levels, respectively. The current data provide a set of baseline values useful for subsequent comparative studies of species experiencing different circumstances, whether due to natural variation or anthropogenic environmental degradation. To enable such comparisons, the raw data are downloadable from a site maintained by the Stock Center (http://ww2.biol.sc.edu/?peromyscus).
Folate and other methyl-donor pathway components are widely supplemented due to their ability to prevent prenatal neural tube defects. Several lines of evidence suggest that these supplements act through epigenetic mechanisms (e.g. altering DNA methylation). Primary among these are the experiments on the mouse viable yellow allele of the agouti locus (A(vy)). In the Avy allele, an Intracisternal A-particle retroelement has inserted into the genome adjacent to the agouti gene and is preferentially methylated. To further test these effects, we tested the same diet used in the Avy studies on wild-derived Peromyscus maniculatus, a native North American rodent. We collected tissues from neonatal offspring whose parents were fed the high-methyl donor diet as well as controls. In addition, we assayed coat-color of a natural variant (wide-band agouti = A(Nb)) that overexpresses agouti as a phenotypic biomarker. Our data indicate that these dietary components affected agouti protein production, despite the lack of a retroelement at this locus. Surprisingly, the methyl-donor diet was associated with defects (e.g. ovarian cysts, cataracts) and increased mortality. We also assessed the effects of the diet on behavior: We scored animals in open field and social interaction tests. We observed significant increases in female repetitive behaviors. Thus these data add to a growing number of studies that suggest that these ubiquitously added nutrients may be a human health concern.
Deer mice (Peromyscus) are the most common native North American mammals, and exhibit great natural genetic variation. Wild-derived stocks from a number of populations are available from the Peromyscus Genetic Stock Center (PGSC). The PGSC also houses a number of natural variants and mutants (many of which appear to differ from Mus). These include metabolic, coat-color/pattern, neurological, and other morphological variants/mutants. Nearly all these mutants are on a common genetic background, the Peromyscus maniculatus BW stock. Peromyscus are also superior behavior models in areas such as repetitive behavior and pair-bonding effects, as multiple species are monogamous. While Peromyscus development generally resembles that of Mus and Rattus, prenatal stages have not been as thoroughly studied, and there appear to be intriguing differences (e.g., longer time spent at the two-cell stage). Development is greatly perturbed in crosses between P. maniculatus (BW) and Peromyscus polionotus (PO). BW females crossed to PO males produce growth-restricted, but otherwise healthy, fertile offspring which allows for genetic analyses of the many traits that differ between these two species. PO females crossed to BW males produce overgrown but severely dysmorphic conceptuses that rarely survive to late gestation. There are likely many more uses for these animals as developmental models than we have described here. Peromyscus models can now be more fully exploited due to the emerging genetic (full linkage map), genomic (genomes of four stocks have been sequenced) and reproductive resources.
Peromyscus spp. are the most abundant native North American mammals. They have gained popularity as research animals in the last 20 years, and this trend is expected to continue as new research tools, such as whole genome sequences, baseline physiological data and others, become available. Concurrently, advances have been made in the recommendations for the care of laboratory animals. The authors provide insight into how the Peromyscus Genetic Stock Center successfully breeds and maintains several stocks of deer mice and related species. This information is beneficial to researchers that plan to include Peromyscus spp. in their research programs.
The rodent genus Peromyscus is the most numerous and species-rich mammalian group in North America. The naturally occurring diversity within this genus allows opportunities to investigate the genetic basis of adaptation, monogamy, behavioral and physiological phenotypes, growth control, genomic imprinting, and disease processes. Increased genomic resources including a high quality genetic map are needed to capitalize on these opportunities. We produced interspecific hybrids between the prairie deer mouse (P. maniculatus bairdii) and the oldfield mouse (P. polionotus) and scored meiotic recombination events in backcross progeny. A genetic map was constructed by genotyping of backcross progeny at 185 gene-based and 155 microsatellite markers representing all autosomes and the X-chromosome. Comparison of the constructed genetic map with the molecular maps of Mus and Rattus and consideration of previous results from interspecific reciprocal whole chromosome painting allowed most linkage groups to be unambiguously assigned to specific Peromyscus chromosomes. Based on genomic comparisons, this Peromyscus genetic map covers ~83% of the Rattus genome and 79% of the Mus genome. This map supports previous results that the Peromyscus genome is more similar to Rattus than Mus. For example, coverage of the 20 Rattus autosomes and the X-chromosome is accomplished with only 28 segments of the Peromyscus map, but coverage of the 19 Mus autosomes and the X-chromosome requires 40 chromosomal segments of the Peromyscus map. Furthermore, a single Peromyscus linkage group corresponds to about 91% of the rat and only 76% of the mouse X-chromosomes.
Peromyscus maniculatus (BW) and P. polionotus (PO) are interfertile North American species that differ in many characteristics. For example, PO exhibit monogamy and BW animals are susceptible to repetitive behaviors and thus a model for neurobehavioral disorders such as Autism. We analyzed these two stocks as well as their hybrids, a BW Y(PO) consomic line (previously shown to alter glucose homeostasis) and a natural P. maniculatus agouti variant (A(Nb) = wide band agouti). We show that PO animals engage in far less repetitive behavior than BW animals, that this trait is dominant, and that trait distribution in both species is bi-modal. The A(Nb) allele also reduces such behaviors, particularly in females. PO, F1, and A(Nb) animals all dig significantly more than BW. Increased self-grooming is also a PO dominant trait, and there is a bimodal trait distribution in all groups except BW. The inter-stock differences in self-grooming are greater between males, and the consomic data suggest the Y chromosome plays a role. The monogamous PO animals engage in more social behavior than BW; hybrid animals exhibit intermediate levels. Surprisingly, A(Nb) animals are also more social than BW animals, although A(Nb) interactions led to aggressive interactions at higher levels than any other group. PO animals exhibited the lowest incidence of aggressive behaviors, while the hybrids exhibited BW levels. Thus this group exhibits natural, genetically tractable variation in several biomedically relevant traits.
Women seeking to become pregnant and pregnant women are currently advised to consume high amounts of folic acid and other methyl donors to prevent neural tube defects in their offspring. These diets can alter methylation patterns of several biomolecules, including nucleic acids, and histone proteins. Limited animal model data suggests that developmental exposure to these maternal methyl supplemented (MS) diets leads to beneficial epimutations. However, other rodent and humans studies have yielded opposing findings with such diets leading to promiscuous epimutations that are likely associated with negative health outcomes. Conflict exists to whether these maternal diets are preventative or exacerbate the risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in children. This review will discuss the findings to date on the potential beneficial and aversive effects of maternal MS diets. We will also consider how other factors might influence the effects of MS diets. Current data suggest that there is cause for concern as maternal MS diets may lead to epimutations that underpin various diseases, including neurobehavioral disorders. Further studies are needed to explore the comprehensive effects maternal MS diets have on the offspring epigenome and subsequent overall health.
Although laboratory-reared species of the genus Peromyscus-including deer mice-are used as model animals in a wide range of research, routine manipulation of Peromyscus embryogenesis and reproduction has been lagging. The objective of the present study was to optimize conditions for oocyte and/or embryo retrieval and for in vitro culturing. On average, 6.4 oocytes per mouse were recovered when two doses of 15 IU of pregnant mare serum gonadotropin (PMSG) were given 24 h apart, followed by 15 IU of hCG 48 h later. Following this hormone priming, females mated overnight with a fertile male yielded an average of 9.1 two-cell stage embryos. Although two-cell stage embryos developed to 8-cell stage in Potassium Simplex Optimized Medium (KSOM; Millipore-Chemicon, Billerica, MA, USA) in vitro, but not further, embryos recovered at the 8- to 16-cell stages developed into fully expanded blastocysts when cultured in M16 media in vitro. These blastocysts had full potential to develop into late stage fetuses and possibly into live pups. As a result of the present work, all stages of Peromyscus preimplantation development are now obtainable in numbers sufficient for molecular or other analyses. These advances provide the opportunity for routine studies involving embryo transfer (e.g., chimeras, transgenics), and preservation of genetic lines by cryopreservation.
The proximal region of murine Chr 2 has long been known to harbour one or more imprinted genes from classic genetic studies involving reciprocal translocations. No imprinted gene had been identified from this region until our study demonstrated that the PcG gene Sfmbt2 is expressed from the paternally inherited allele in early embryos and extraembryonic tissues. Imprinted genes generally reside in clusters near elements termed Imprinting Control Regions (ICRs), suggesting that Sfmbt2 might represent an anchor for a new imprinted domain.
Crosses between the North American deer mouse species Peromyscus maniculatus (BW) and P. polionotus (PO) produce dramatic asymmetric developmental effects. BW females mated to PO males (female bw × male po) produce viable growth-retarded offspring. In contrast, PO females mated to BW males (female PO × male BW) produce overgrown but dysmorphic conceptuses. Most female PO × male BW offspring are dead by midgestation; those surviving to later time points display numerous defects reminiscent of several diseases. The hybrid effects are particularly pronounced in the placenta. Here we examine placental morphological defects via histology and in situ hybridization as well as the relationship between growth and mortality in the female PO × male BW cross. These assays indicate altered hybrid fetal:placental ratios by the equivalent of mouse (Mus) Embryonic Day (E) 13 and disorganization and labyrinth defects in female PO × male BW placentas and confirm earlier suggestions of a severely reduced junctional zone in the female bw × male po hybrids. Further, we show that both cellular proliferation and death are abnormal in the hybrids through BrdU incorporation and TUNEL assays, respectively. Together the data indicate that the origin of the effects is prior to the equivalent of Mus E10. Finally, as the majority of these assays had not previously been performed on Peromyscus, these studies provide comparative data on wild-type placentation.
Deer mice (Peromyscus) offer an opportunity for studying the effects of natural genetic/epigenetic variation with several advantages over other mammalian models. These advantages include the ability to study natural genetic variation and behaviors not present in other models. Moreover, their life histories in diverse habitats are well studied. Peromyscus resources include genome sequencing in progress, a nascent genetic map, and >90,000?ESTs. Here we review epigenetic studies and relevant areas of research involving Peromyscus models. These include differences in epigenetic control between species and substance effects on behavior. We also present new data on the epigenetic effects of diet on coat-color using a Peromyscus model of agouti overexpression. We suggest that in terms of tying natural genetic variants with environmental effects in producing specific epigenetic effects, Peromyscus models have a great potential.
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