Mouse Behavioral Phenotyping MBPF

Rationale. The central nervous system (CNS) is the most complex structure of the animal organism both in terms of its development and function. CNS phenotyping requires special skills and equipment, and combination of several research approaches, including behavioural analysis, pharmacological profiling, electrophysiology, imaging, histopathology. Behavioural phenotyping of laboratory rodents is highly important and relevant approach in basic biomedical research. For instance, the goal of the International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium (IMPC, http://www.mousephenotype.org) is to discover functional insight for every gene by generating and systematically phenotyping ~20,000 knockout mouse strains. Eventually, these mice will be available for research community worldwide for specific hypothesis-driven experiments, and there will be high demand for expertise in different areas of phenotyping. Modelling complex neuropsychiatric, neurodegenerative and neurological disorders in animals is not possible without reliable behavioural readouts and endpoints. Moreover, it can be argued that behaviour of a living organism is affected by any manipulation or treatment (genetic or non-genetic). Therefore, behavioural analysis could be also applied in studies involving any organ system beyond brain and CNS (e.g. metabolism, cardiovascular system, endocrinology, immunology, cancer research etc.). Adopting this strategy can significantly enhance validity of the research results. Therefore, maintenance of core facilities providing both equipment and expertise in broad field of rodent physiology and behaviour is essential for maintaining a competitive international level and further development of basic and applied science.

Mouse Behavioral Phenotyping Facility (MBPF) is a state-of-the-art core facility providing equipment and professional assistance (including design, implementation, analysis, presentation and interpretation) for researchers interested in behavioural examination of the mouse models. MBPF is a partner in FinnMouse technology platform (supported by model organisms scientific network by Biocenter Finland), operating at the Laboratory Animal Center (LAC) of University of Helsinki. This combination creates a strong infrastructure to support the research with rodent models.

Researchers interested in using the facility are advised to contact the director for discussing the details of planning and conducting the experiments. Access is regulated by terms of service and user fees are applied according to the price list.

Personnel

Director: Vootele Voikar (vootele.voikar@helsinki.fi) +358 2941 57658
Research assistant: Johanna Åhlgren (johanna.ahlgren@helsinki.fi)

Wide range of behavioural tests and models available:

  • Circadian activity – single housed animals (InfraMot), group-housed animals (IntelliCage)
  • Behavior and cognitive performance in automated, social home cage without experimenter interference (IntelliCage)
  • Emotional behavior – elevated plus-maze, elevated zero-maze, novelty-suppressed feeding, object exploration, open field, light-dark box, forced swim test, tail suspension test, anhedonia (saccharin preference), stress-induced hyperthermia
  • Learning & memory – water maze, Barnes maze, radial maze, T-maze, Y-maze, classical fear conditioning (+extinction), novel object recognition, conditioned taste aversion
  • Motor behavior – accelerating rotarod, grip strength, beam walking, multiple rods, wire hanging, cylinder test, vertical grid
  • Hearing, sensorimotor gating – acoustic startle response, pre-pulse inhibition (PPI) of acoustic startle
  • Nociception – hot plate, plantar test, von Frey test
  • Olfaction – olfactory habituation/dishabituation
  • Vision – visual cliff
  • Social behavior – resident-intruder social interaction, sociability in 3-compartment test, social preference/avoidance, dominance (tube test), ultrasonic vocalizations
  • Species-specific behavior – nest building, burrowing, grooming, marble burying
  • Stress models – restraint stress, social defeat

Equipment at MBPF:

  • Videotracking – EthoVision XT 10 (two setups)
  • Activity Monitor (MedAssociates) – 8 arenas (open field, 30x30 cm) with infrared frames at two levels (detecting horizontal and vertical activity – distance travelled, rearings) and optional inserts for Light-Dark test
  • Startle Monitor (MedAssociates) – 2 chambers for measuring acoustic startle reflex and pre-pulse inhibition of the startle
  • Fear Conditioning System (TSE) – 2 chambers with infrared frames at two levels for measuring activity and freezing
  • IntelliCage (NewBehavior / TSE) – social home cage for automated monitoring, 6 cages
  • InfraMot (TSE) – recording moving of single-housed animal in home cage, n=24
  • Ultrasound recorder (Avisoft)
  • Grip strength meter (Ugo Basile)
  • Accelerating rotarod (Ugo Basile)
  • Hot/cold plate (Ugo Basile)
  • Plantar (Hargreaves’) test (Ugo Basile)
  • Automated von Frey (Ugo Basile)
  • Rectal thermometer (Bioseb)

Custom-made mazes (to be used with videotracking):

Elevated plus maze, elevated zero maze, light-dark box, water maze (120 cm diameter), Barnes maze (100 cm diameter, 20 holes), T-maze, Y-maze, 8-arm radial maze, open field (40x40 cm), 3-compartment arenas (for sociability test)

Other equipment / supplies:

Instruments for assessment of motor performance (beams, wires, grids etc.), burrowing tubes, Nestlets, precision pellets, tubes for restraint, tubes for drinking, RFID-transponders for animal identification