While it is clear that behavioral experience modulates epigenetic profiles, it is less evident how the nature of that experience influences outcomes and whether epigenetic/genetic "biomarkers" could be extracted to classify different types of behavioral experience. To begin to address this question, male and female mice were subjected to either a Fixed Interval (FI) schedule of food reward, or a single episode of forced swim followed by restraint stress, or no explicit behavioral experience after which global expression levels of two activating (H3K9ac and H3K4me3) and two repressive (H3K9me2 and H3k27me3) post-translational histone modifications (PTHMs), were measured in hippocampus (HIPP) and frontal cortex (FC). The specific nature of the behavioral experience differentiated profiles of PTHMs in a sex- and brain region-dependent manner, with all 4 PTHMs changing in parallel in response to different behavioral experiences. These different behavioral experiences also modified the pattern of correlations of PTHMs both within and across FC and HIPP. Unexpectedly, highly robust correlations were found between global PTHM levels and behavioral performances, suggesting that global PTHMs may provide a higher-order pattern recognition function. Further efforts are needed to determine the generality of such findings and what characteristics of behavioral experience are critical for modulating PTHM responses.
Keywords: FI schedule; behavior; epigenetics; forced swim; frontal cortex; global histone modification; hippocampus; restraint stress.