Recent investigations in neurogenomics have opened up new lines of research into a crucial genetic problem-the pathway from genes to behavior. This paper concentrates on the involvement of protein elements in the brain neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HT) system in the genetic control of aggressive behavior. Specifically, it describes: (1) the effect of the knockout of MAO A, the principal enzyme in 5-HT degradation, (2) the association of intermale aggression with the polymorphism in the Tph2 gene encoding the key enzyme in 5-HT synthesis in the brain, tryptophan hydroxylase (TPH), and (3) the effect of selective breeding for nonaggressive behavior on 5-HT metabolism, TPH activity and 5-HT(1A) receptors in the brain. The review provides converging lines of evidence that: (1) brain 5-HT contributes to a critical mechanism underlying genetically defined individual differences in aggressiveness, and (2) genes encoding pivotal enzymes in 5-HT metabolism (TPH and MAO A), 5-HT-transporter, 5-HT(1A) and 5-HT(1B) receptors belong to a group of genes that modulate aggressive behavior.
2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.