Cerebellum Transcriptome of Mice Bred for High Voluntary Activity Offers Insights into Locomotor Control and Reward-Dependent Behaviors

PLoS One. 2016 Nov 28;11(11):e0167095. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0167095. eCollection 2016.


The role of the cerebellum in motivation and addictive behaviors is less understood than that in control and coordination of movements. High running can be a self-rewarding behavior exhibiting addictive properties. Changes in the cerebellum transcriptional networks of mice from a line selectively bred for High voluntary running (H) were profiled relative to an unselected Control (C) line. The environmental modulation of these changes was assessed both in activity environments corresponding to 7 days of Free (F) access to running wheel and to Blocked (B) access on day 7. Overall, 457 genes exhibited a significant (FDR-adjusted P-value < 0.05) genotype-by-environment interaction effect, indicating that activity genotype differences in gene expression depend on environmental access to running. Among these genes, network analysis highlighted 6 genes (Nrgn, Drd2, Rxrg, Gda, Adora2a, and Rab40b) connected by their products that displayed opposite expression patterns in the activity genotype contrast within the B and F environments. The comparison of network expression topologies suggests that selection for high voluntary running is linked to a predominant dysregulation of hub genes in the F environment that enables running whereas a dysregulation of ancillary genes is favored in the B environment that blocks running. Genes associated with locomotor regulation, signaling pathways, reward-processing, goal-focused, and reward-dependent behaviors exhibited significant genotype-by-environment interaction (e.g. Pak6, Adora2a, Drd2, and Arhgap8). Neuropeptide genes including Adcyap1, Cck, Sst, Vgf, Npy, Nts, Penk, and Tac2 and related receptor genes also exhibited significant genotype-by-environment interaction. The majority of the 183 differentially expressed genes between activity genotypes (e.g. Drd1) were under-expressed in C relative to H genotypes and were also under-expressed in B relative to F environments. Our findings indicate that the high voluntary running mouse line studied is a helpful model for understanding the molecular mechanisms in the cerebellum that influence locomotor control and reward-dependent behaviors.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breeding
  • Cerebellum / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Gene Regulatory Networks
  • Genotype
  • Locomotion / genetics*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Motor Activity / genetics*
  • Reward*
  • Running / physiology*
  • Transcriptome*