Prof. Lawrence Wilkinson
Based at the Behavioural Genetics Group, School of Psychology and School of Medicine, Department of Psychological Medicine
Behaviour, genetics, epigenetics, brain disorders
Research Interests and Facilities
The Behavioural Genetics Group (BGG) in Cardiff works on one of the biggest questions in biology today. How do the genetic cards we at dealt at conception interact with our lifetime experiences to give rise to our unique behavioural profile and our risk of neurological and psychiatric disorder? Until recently, the complexities of such gene-environment interplay seemed overwhelming but new insights and methods now mean this problem is becoming increasingly tractable.
Active areas of research in the BGG include work on familial forms of dementia and novel autosomal and X-linked genetic mechanisms influencing fear, attention and impulsive behaviours. Work on the X chromosome is giving rise to new ideas about the genetic basis of sexually dimorphic behaviours that go beyond SRY and gonadal hormones. A major interest of the group is in the emerging field of behavioural epigenetics (gene effects not involving changes in DNA sequence) and the concept that environmental stimuli can influence gene expression in brain, and subsequent long term behaviour patterns, by epigenetic changes in DNA methylation and/or chromatin modifications. Recently, we have been studying a special form of epigenetic mechanism, genomic imprinting, in the context of brain function and behaviour. Our science is supported by world leading expertise in combining molecular biology approaches with psychology and behavioural neuroscience methods. We work with colleagues in Cardiff, the UK and internationally, to develop our work and to translate our basic research findings into clinically relevant areas
Available PhD Projects
- Epigenetic mechanisms underlying enduring effects of adverse early life events on adult behaviour
- Effects of male specific Sry expression in brain on cognition and behaviour
- Actions, habits and chromatin remodelling
- Wilkinson LS, Davies W, Isles AR (2007) Genomic imprinting effects on brain development and function Nature Reviews Neuroscience 8:832-843.
- Lambourne SL, Humby T, Isles AR, Emson PC, Spillantini MG, Wilkinson LS (2007) Impairments in impulse control in mice transgenic for the human FTDP-17 tauV337M mutation are exacerbated by age. Human Molecular Genetics 16:1708-1719.
- Davies W, Humby T, Isles AR, Burgoyne PS, Wilkinson LS (2007) X-monosomy effects on visuospatial attention in mice: a candidate gene and implications for Turner syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Biological Psychiatry 61:1351-1360.
- Isles AR, Davies W, Wilkinson LS (2006) Genomic imprinting and the social brain, Philosophical Transactions, Royal Society, London B Biol Sci 361:2229-2237.
- Davies W, Isles AR, Smith R, Karunadasa D, Burrmann D, Humby T, Ojarikre O, Biggin C, Skuse D, Burgoyne P, Wilkinson LS (2005) Xlr3b is a new imprinted candidate for X-linked parent-of-origin effects on cognitive functioning in mice. Nature Genetics 37, 625-629
- Lambourne SL, Sellers LA, Bush TG, Choudhury SK, Ernson PC, Suh YH, Wilkinson LS (2005) Increased tau phosphorylation on mitogen-activated protein kinase consensus sites and cognitive decline in transgenic models for Alzheimer's disease and FTDP-17: Evidence for distinct molecular processes underlying tau abnormalities. Molecular and Cellular Biology 25:278-293.
- Isles AR, Davies W, Burmann D, Burgoyne PS, Wilkinson LS (2004) Effects on fear reactivity in XO mice are due to haploinsufficiency of a non-PAR X gene: implications for emotional function in Turner's syndrome. Human Molecular Genetics 13:1849-1855.
- Isles AR, Humby T, Walters E, Wilkinson LS (2004) Common genetic effects on variation in impulsivity and activity in mice. Journal of Neuroscience 24:6733-6740.
- Isles AR, Wilkinson LS (2000) Imprinted genes, cognition and behaviour Trends in Cognitive Sciences 4:309-318