Published: August 2, 2022

Category: GMO News, The Non-GMO Blog

Gene editing can turn your beloved hamster from a Dr. Jekyll to a Mr./Mrs. Hyde. That alone shows the potency of the genetic manipulation tool—but even scarier is that the researchers who used it on hamsters had strongly expected the opposite result.

University of Georgia scientists used the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing tool to remove a neurochemical signaling pathway regulating group behavior, including bonding, cooperation and communication, and dominance/aggression. The pathway, vasopressin, triggers social aggression and conflict; by suppressing vasopressin activity, they expected more relaxed behavior. In fact, male hamsters, prone to showing aggression to other males, became significantly more aggressive. Females, who don’t normally show aggression to other females, became just as raging as the males, a “startling” finding.

Prominent neuroscientist H. Elliott Albers, co-author of the study, said CRISPR was key to being able to achieve the gene editing, but “it also demonstrates the limits of our knowledge of how tinkering with genes affects traits in the real world…. We don’t understand this system as well as we thought we did. The counterintuitive findings tell us we need to start thinking about the actions of these receptors across entire circuits of the brain and not just in specific brain regions.”

The authors caution researchers to keep experiments in the lab until much more knowledge is acquired on the relationship of DNA and traits.

Source: Mother Jones

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Organic & Non-GMO Insights August 2022