Genomic modules and intramodular network concordance in susceptible and resilient male mice across models of stress

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2022 Apr;47(5):987-999. doi: 10.1038/s41386-021-01219-8. Epub 2021 Nov 30.


The multifactorial etiology of stress-related disorders necessitates a constant interrogation of the molecular convergences in preclinical models of stress that use disparate paradigms as stressors spanning from environmental challenges to genetic predisposition to hormonal signaling. Using RNA-sequencing, we investigated the genomic signatures in the ventral hippocampus common to mouse models of stress. Chronic oral corticosterone (CORT) induced increased anxiety- and depression-like behavior in wild-type male mice and male mice heterozygous for the gene coding for brain-derived neurotrophic factor Val66Met, a variant associated with genetic susceptibility to stress. In a separate set of male mice, chronic social defeat stress (CSDS) led to a susceptible or a resilient population, whose proportion was dependent on housing conditions, namely standard housing or enriched environment. Rank-rank-hypergeometric overlap (RRHO), a threshold-free approach that ranks genes by their p value and effect size direction, was used to identify genes from a continuous gradient of significancy that were concordant across groups. In mice treated with CORT and in standard-housed susceptible mice, differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were concordant for gene networks involved in neurotransmission, cytoskeleton function, and vascularization. Weighted gene co-expression analysis generated 54 gene hub modules and revealed two modules in which both CORT and CSDS-induced enrichment in DEGs, whose function was concordant with the RRHO predictions, and correlated with behavioral resilience or susceptibility. These data showed transcriptional concordance across models in which the stress coping depends upon hormonal, environmental, or genetic factors revealing common genomic drivers that embody the multifaceted nature of stress-related disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anxiety / genetics
  • Corticosterone* / pharmacology
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Hippocampus
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Stress, Psychological* / chemically induced
  • Stress, Psychological* / genetics


  • Corticosterone