This work has been conducted as a multi-disciplinary collaboration within the “Gene Networks in Neural & Developmental Plasticity” (GNDP) research theme at the Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB). The Stubbs lab is working with other GNDP faculty to test the hypothesis that conserved genomic mechanisms underlie the brain response to salient social interactions across the animal kingdom. To test this hypothesis, we have used a diverse range of established animal behavioral models –honey bees, stickleback fish, and mice – and the stringent filter of comparative genomics to uncover conserved neurogenomic signatures of adaptive social responses. Our core focus is on networks of transcription factors (TFs) and other chromatin interactors that may determine individual and interspecies variation in social behavior.
The goal of the GNDP theme’s efforts is to tie the evidence we extract from each species together into a fundamental model of social responsiveness, and to follow these leads to elaborate conserved neurogenomic mechanisms that are directly relevant to human disorders and disease. Indeed, our studies so far have uncovered conserved genes, pathways, and TF networks that are activated by salient social stimuli in all three species, including many associated with human disease.