A new discovery by scientists suggest that mice keeping the company of littermates who are genetically abnormal can develop traits similar to autism mutation even if they don’t have the mutation. The evidence appearing in eNeuro’s July, 31st issue indicated that behavior can be influenced in complicated and important ways. The view was endorsed by Alice Luo Clayton a neuroscientist from New York City’s Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative. Non-mutated mates in the litter are not always the focus of scrutiny because the result comes from looking beyond mutated mice.
Clayton who was not involved in the research said people almost never considered the study from that perspective. Originally the researchers intended to examine the mice behavior with the mutation similar to that found in autistic people, and evaluating mice without mutation was not an aspect of the initial plan. The coauthor of the study, Mr Stephane Baudouin, a neurobiologist from Cardiff University in Wales said the discovery was something they stumbled on.
The team studied mice groups that had been made to lack a gene that mutated in some individuals with autism known as neuroligin-3 through genetically modification. The mice lacked Neuroligin-3 a protein that facilitates the communication of nerve cells in their brains. And as anticipated, the mice lacked the interest of sniffing other mice among other quirks in behavior. But the behavior of non-mutated control mice who cohabited with the neuroligin-3 deficient mutants also seemed abnormal.
The behavior of the mice with mutants was suspected. Genetically normal mice living in groups of mutated victims there was flat behavior because of lack of social hierarchy. The hunch confirmed that mice from strong social hierarchies usually displayed vocal males with aggressive behavior at the top. Non-mutated mice raised in groups with similar genetics had more testosterone that mutated and non-mutated mice living together. Baudouin said that one of the strongest and most surprising results was that the levels of testosterone in both types of mice were similar to those found in female mice.
The mice also lacked social curiosity because usually the mice are always curious about the smell of other mice, and if a swab had been swiped across the sleeping quarters of unfamiliar mice they would take a lot of time sniffing the swab. But when they were presented with the choice of banana scent and scent of strange mouse both the mutant and non-mutant mice spent an equal amount of time sniffing the banana.