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1.  Mapping loci for fox domestication: deconstruction/reconstruction of a behavioral phenotype 
Behavior genetics  2010;41(4):593-606.
During the second part of the 20th century, Belyaev selected tame and aggressive foxes (Vulpes vulpes), in an effort known as the “farm-fox experiment”, to recapitulate the process of animal domestication. Using these tame and aggressive foxes as founders of segregant backcross and intercross populations we have employed interval mapping to identify a locus for tame behavior on fox chromosome VVU12. This locus is orthologous to, and therefore validates, a genomic region recently implicated in canine domestication. The tame versus aggressive behavioral phenotype was characterized as the first principal component (PC) of a PC matrix made up of many distinct behavioral traits (e.g. wags tail; comes to the front of the cage; allows head to be touched; holds observer’s hand with its mouth; etc.). Mean values of this PC for F1, backcross and intercross populations defined a linear gradient of heritable behavior ranging from tame to aggressive. The second PC did not follow such a gradient, but also mapped to VVU12, and distinguished between active and passive behaviors. These data suggest that 1) there are at least two VVU12 loci associated with behavior; 2) expression of these loci is dependent on interactions with other parts of the genome (the genome context) and therefore varies from one crossbred population to another depending on the individual parents that participated in the cross.
PMCID: PMC3076541  PMID: 21153916
behavior genetics; domestication; social behavior; Vulpes vulpes; Canis familiaris
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2009;50(2):592-600.
Acute exposure to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) can cause hypoglycemia and insulin resistance; the underlying mechanisms however, are unclear. We set out to determine whether insulin resistance is linked to hypoglycemia through TLR4, MyD88 and NFκB, a cell signaling pathway that mediates LPS induction of the proinflammatory cytokine TNFα. LPS induction of hypoglycemia was blocked in TLR4−/− and MyD88−/− mice but not in TNFα−/− mice. Both glucose production and glucose utilization were decreased during hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia was associated with the activation of NFκB in the liver. LPS inhibition of glucose production was blocked in hepatocytes isolated from TLR4−/− and MyD88−/− mice and hepatoma cells expressing an IκB mutant that interferes with NFκB activation. Thus, LPS-induced hypoglycemia was mediated by the inhibition of glucose production from the liver through the TLR4, MyD88, NFκB pathway, independent of LPS induced TNFα. LPS inhibition of glucose production was not blocked by pharmacologic inhibition of the insulin signaling intermediate PI3K in hepatoma cells. Insulin injection caused a similar reduction of circulating glucose in TLR4−/− and TLR4+/+ mice. These two results suggest that LPS and insulin inhibit glucose production by separate pathways. Recovery from LPS induced hypoglycemia was linked to glucose intolerance and hyperinsulinemia in TLR4+/+ mice, but not in TLR4−/− mice.
Insulin resistance is linked to the inhibition of glucose production by the TLR4, MyD88 and NFκB pathway.
PMCID: PMC2822400  PMID: 19492426
3.  Neuroendocrine inhibition of glucose production and resistance to cancer in dwarf mice 
Experimental gerontology  2008;44(1-2):26-33.
Pit1 null (Snell dwarf) and Proph1 null (Ames dwarf) mutant mice lack GH, PRL and TSH. Snell and Ames dwarf mice also exhibit reduced IGF-I, resistance to cancer and a longer lifespan than control mice. Endogenous glucose production during fasting is reduced in Snell dwarf mice compared to fasting control mice. In view of cancer cell dependence on glucose for energy, low endogenous glucose production may provide Snell dwarf mice with resistance to cancer. We investigated whether endogenous glucose production is lower in Snell dwarf mice during feeding. Inhibition of endogenous glucose production by glucose injection was enhanced in 12 to 14 month-old female Snell dwarf mice. Thus, we hypothesize that lower endogenous glucose production during feeding and fasting reduces cancer cell glucose utilization providing Snell dwarf mice with resistance to cancer. The elevation of circulating adiponectin, a hormone produced by adipose tissue, may contribute to the suppression of endogenous glucose production in 12 to 14 month-old Snell dwarf mice. We compared the incidence of cancer at time of death between old Snell dwarf and control mice. Only 18% of old Snell dwarf mice had malignant lesions at the time of death compared to 82% of control mice. The median ages at death for old Snell dwarf and control mice were 33 and 26 months, respectively. By contrast, previous studies showed a high incidence of cancer in old Ames dwarf mice at the time of death. Hence, resistance to cancer in old Snell dwarf mice may be mediated by neuroendocrine factors that reduce glucose utilization besides elevated adiponectin, reduced IGF-I and a lack of GH, PRL and TSH, seen in both Snell and Ames dwarf mice. Proteomics analysis of pituitary secretions from Snell dwarf mice confirmed the absence of GH and PRL, the secretion of ACTH and elevated secretion of Chromogranin B and Secretogranin II. Radioimmune assays confirmed that circulating Chromogranin B and Secretogranin II were elevated in 12 to 14 month-old Snell dwarf mice. In summary, our results in Snell dwarf mice suggest that the pituitary gland and adipose tissue are part of a neuroendocrine loop that lowers the risk of cancer during aging by reducing the availability of glucose.
PMCID: PMC2872123  PMID: 18582556
Glucose; Cancer; Adiponectin; Growth hormone; Dwarf mice; Pituitary; Chromogranins

Results 1-3 (3)