Emilie Rissman
Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics
Ph.D., Cornell University
Mammalian Behavioral Genetics

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Mammalian social behavior is complex, yet a systematic genetic approach can reveal the major genes that regulate behavior. Because many social behaviors are activated only when gonadal steroid hormones are present the genes for steroid hormone receptors are currently under study in our laboratory. We have found that androgen receptor (AR) is required for normal social affiliative behavior in male mice. In addition our work shows that several social behaviors are sexually dimorphic, in part, because of differences in sex chromosome genes. One of our long term goals is to better elucidate the relationship between hormones and sex chromosome genes. In addition we are also interested in the roles that experience play on behavior and how epigenetic mechanisms regulate these changes. Our mouse work is relevant to several sexually dimorphic neurobehavioral diseases including autism spectrum disorder.

Selected References

Wolstenholme JT, Rissman EF, Bekiranov S. (2012) "Sexual differentiation in the developing mouse brain: contributions of sex chromosome genes." Genes Brain Behav. Dec 5. doi: 10.1111/gbb.12010. [Epub ahead of print] [PubMed]

Abel JL, Rissman EF. (2012) "Running-induced epigenetic and gene expression changes in the adolescent brain." Int J Dev Neurosci. Nov 23. pii: S0736-5748(12)00585-0. doi:10.1016/j.ijdevneu.2012.11.002. [Epub ahead of print] [PubMed]

Wolstenholme JT, Edwards M, Shetty SR, Gatewood JD, Taylor JA, Rissman EF,Connelly JJ. (2012) "Gestational exposure to bisphenol a produces transgenerational changes in behaviors and gene expression." Endocrinology. 153:3828-38. doi: 10.1210/en.2012-1195. Epub 2012 Jun 15. [PubMed]

Stolzenberg DS, Stevens JS, Rissman EF. (2012) "Experience-facilitated improvements in pup retrieval; evidence for an epigenetic effect." Horm Behav. 62:128-35. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2012.05.012. Epub 2012Jun 8. [PubMed]