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Gene Expression Changes in a Rat Model of Bipolar Disorder

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Effects of Early Postnatal Exposure to Homocysteic Acid on Transcriptome Changes in the Sprague Dawley Rat

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Project Description:

This interdisciplinary project will incorporate the disciplines of biology, biochemistry and neuroscience . However the project is specifically housed within the Hope College Department of Chemistry. Bipolar disorder is a serious mood disorder that is characterized by periods of depression and mania. The development of novel therapies for this disorder has been hampered by the lack of a reliable animal model. We recently discovered that treatment of rats from postnatal day 3-18 with the glutamatergic agonist, homocysteic acid (HCA), leads to the development of manic and depressive behaviors in male and female rats. In addition, we did a follow up RNA microarray study in a few animals and discovered that nearly 200 genes are differentially expressed in the HCA-treated animals months after the initial exposure to HCA. We are now using a technique known as qPCR to validate these inital findings so that we can better understand how changes in gene expression lead to behavioral changes in these animals. Students working on this project will learn the basic techniques associated with transcriptomics. Specifically, they will learn how to extract RNA from tissue, perform reverse transcription and qPCR reactions and analyze their data using various transcriptomics software packages.

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