Serotonin is critical for shaping the development of neural circuits regulating emotion. Pet-1 (FEV-1) is an ETS-domain transcription factor essential for differentiation and forebrain targeting of serotonin neurons. Constitutive Pet-1 knockout (KO) causes major loss of serotonin neurons and forebrain serotonin availability, and behavioral abnormalities. We phenotyped Pet-1 KO mice for fear conditioning and extinction, and on a battery of assays for anxiety- and depression-related behaviors. Morphology of Golgi-stained neurons in basolateral amygdala (BLA) and prelimbic cortex was examined. Using human imaging genetics, a common variant (rs860573) in the PET-1 (FEV) gene was tested for effects on threat-related amygdala reactivity and psychopathology in 88 Asian-ancestry subjects. Pet-1 KO mice exhibited increased acquisition and expression of fear, and elevated fear recovery following extinction, relative to wild-type (WT). BLA dendrites of Pet-1 KO mice were significantly longer than in WT. Human PET-1 variation associated with differences in amygdala threat processing and psychopathology. This novel evidence for the role of Pet-1 in fear processing and dendritic organization of amygdala neurons and in human amygdala threat processing extends a growing literature demonstrating the influence of genetic variation in the serotonin system on emotional regulation via effects on structure and function of underlying corticolimbic circuitry.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation (grant number 2007096 to AH, CLW, MM); the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse ( Z01-AA000411 to AH), and Duke University .
- Basolateral amygdala
- Fear conditioning
- Medial prefrontal cortex
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Neuroscience