Behaviors are often highly heritable, polygenic traits. To investigate molecular mediators of behavior, we analyzed gene expression patterns across seven brain regions (amygdala, basal ganglia, cerebellum, frontal cortex, hippocampus, cingulate cortex, and olfactory bulb) of 10 different inbred mouse strains (129S1/SvImJ, A/J, AKR/J, BALB/cByJ, BTBR T+ tf/J, C3H/HeJ, C57BL/6J, C57L/J, DBA/2J, and FVB/NJ). Extensive variation was observed across both strain and brain region. These data provide potential transcriptional intermediates linking polygenic variation to differences in behavior. For example, mice from different strains had variable performance on the rotarod task, which correlated with the expression of >2000 transcripts in the cerebellum. Correlation with this task was also found in the amygdala and hippocampus, but not in other regions examined, indicating the potential complexity of motor coordination. Thus we can begin to identify expression profiles contributing to behavioral phenotypes through variation in gene expression.
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