Meeting Abstract

P1.134  Wednesday, Jan. 4  Epigenetic effects of diet on a natural mammalian variant. SHORTER, K.R.*; CROSSLAND, J.; WEBB, D.; TALLEY, L.; SZALAI, G.; FELDER, M.R.; VRANA, P.B.; Univ. of South Carolina, Columbia; Univ. of South Carolina, Columbia; Univ. of South Carolina, Columbia; Univ. of South Carolina, Columbia; Univ. of South Carolina, Columbia; Univ. of South Carolina, Columbia; Univ. of South Carolina, Columbia shortekr@email.sc.edu

Deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus, or BW) are among the most common native North American mammals and exhibit a great amount of natural genetic variation. The wide-band agouti allele (Anb ) is a naturally occurring variant which overexpresses the agouti gene. This results in a more yellow coat-color than the standard stock animals (BW). Crosses were established for BW females and Anb (wide band agouti) males. The parents in these crosses were fed a diet high in methyl donors to assess possible effects on agouti gene expression. In previous experiments with lab mice, the maternal methyl diet had effects on methylation of loci where a retroelement insertion 5’ of the Agouti promoter. This experiment is among one of the first to demonstrate the effects of a diet high in methyl donors on a natural variant of the agouti gene. Behavioral data for offspring of these parents were obtained for open field tests and responses to a novel individual. First, a single offspring was filmed alone for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes alone, a control animal was placed in the cage and filmed for 5 minutes with the methyl diet (or control) offspring. Pelts were taken and organs (brain, liver, and testes or ovaries and uterus) were harvested for DNA methylation analysis. Pictures were taken of pelts side by side to quantitate the wide variation in coat colors among the offspring. A tuft of hair was taken from each pelt and bands of color were measured under the microscope. This was done to further quantify the change in banding due to the methyl diet. We are currently assessing the global levels of DNA methylation.