Given the importance of the genetic context for the functionality

Given the importance of the genetic context for the functionality of specific genes, this study illustrates one of the main Veliparib drawbacks in genetic studies: the study of the contribution of specific genes in single mouse inbred populations. In contrast to the majority of genes, the expression of imprinted genes (IGs) is mono-allelic and is determined by the contribution of a single parental allele. The gene

for the growth factor receptor-bound protein (Grb)-10 is an IG. The paternal form of Grb10 is mostly restricted to the brain (especially in the ventral midbrain and medulla oblongata) whereas the maternal allele is almost exclusively expressed in the peripheral tissue [39••]. Mutant mice devoid of a functional Grb-10 paternal allele show a specific reduction in social dominance, but no changes in aggression NVP-BEZ235 molecular weight or social recognition [39••]. Imprinting occurs through epigenetic modifications (such as DNA methylation) at imprinting control regions. These regions typically determine the parental expression of multiple neighboring genes by means of DNA methylation [40]. Interestingly, next to the Grb10 gene is the location of the gene for dopa decarboxylase (DDC), an enzyme pivotal for the production of dopamine, noradrenaline, adrenaline and 5HT [41]. Thus, these studies potentially link

social dominance to the synthesis of catecholamines and indolamines through epigenetic mechanisms (Box 1). In humans, social rank is strongly related to a person’s place in the socioeconomic hierarchy, which is referred to as one’s social class or socioeconomic status [48]. The idea that social class is inherited has

prevailed since antiquity, serving as the justification for power to be kept within royal lineages and as a motivation to determine class-related Nintedanib (BIBF 1120) resources and rights [49]. Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection provided a biological basis to justify social class. One example of the societal impact of this thinking is the dark ‘eugenics’ movements developed toward the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, whose aims were to encourage reproduction in persons with ‘good’ traits (typically those of upper classes) while hindering reproduction in those with supposed ‘bad’ traits [49]. Interestingly, even nowadays, upper-class rank individuals (measured in terms of subjective ladder ranking) are likely to endorse essentialist lay theories of social class categories (i.e. beliefs that group characteristics are stable, immutable and biologically determined), whereas lower-class rank individuals tend to think that external social factors are more important causes of economic inequality [48]. In fact, recent evidence points at a rather high level of intergenerational transmission (i.e. from parents to offspring) of socioeconomic position [50].

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