TitleExperiential contributions to social dominance in a rat model of fragile-X syndrome.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsSaxena K, Webster J, Hallas-Potts A, Mackenzie R, Spooner PA, Thomson D, Kind P, Chatterji S, Morris RGM
JournalProc Biol Sci
Date Published2018 Jun 13

Social withdrawal is one phenotypic feature of the monogenic neurodevelopmental disorder fragile-X. Using a 'knockout' rat model of fragile-X, we examined whether deletion of the gene that causes this condition would affect the ability to form and express a social hierarchy as measured in a tube test. Male fragile-X 'knockout' rats living together could successfully form a social dominance hierarchy, but were significantly subordinate to wild-type animals in mixed group cages. Over 10 days of repeated testing, the fragile-X mutant rats gradually showed greater variance and instability of rank during their tube-test encounters. This affected the outcome of future encounters with stranger animals from other cages, with the initial phenotype of wild-type dominance lost to a more complex picture that reflected, regardless of genotype, the prior experience of winning or losing. Our findings offer a novel insight into the complex dynamics of social interactions between laboratory living groups of fragile-X and wild-type rats. Even though this is a monogenic condition, experience has an impact upon future interactions with other animals. Gene/environment interactions should therefore be considered in the development of therapeutics.

Alternate JournalProc. Biol. Sci.
PubMed ID29899064
PubMed Central IDPMC6015851