HP1BP3 expression determines maternal behavior and offspring survival.

Document Type


Publication Date



Translational Research, MMCRI

Journal Title

Genes, brain, and behavior

MeSH Headings

Animals, Anxiety, Behavior, Animal, Brain, Depression, Epigenesis, Genetic, Female, Maternal Behavior, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Nuclear Proteins, Pregnancy, Reproduction, Social Behavior


Maternal care is an indispensable behavioral component necessary for survival and reproductive success in mammals, and postpartum maternal behavior is mediated by an incompletely understood complex interplay of signals including effects of epigenetic regulation. We approached this issue using our recently established mice with targeted deletion of heterochromatin protein 1 binding protein 3 (HP1BP3), which we found to be a novel epigenetic repressor with critical roles in postnatal growth. Here, we report a dramatic reduction in the survival of pups born to Hp1bp3(-/-) deficient mouse dams, which could be rescued by co-fostering with wild-type dams. Hp1bp3(-/-) females failed to retrieve both their own pups and foster pups in a pup retrieval test, and showed reduced anxiety-like behavior in the open-field and elevated-plus-maze tests. In contrast, Hp1bp3(-/-) females showed no deficits in behaviors often associated with impaired maternal care, including social behavior, depression, motor coordination and olfactory capability; and maintained unchanged anxiety-associated hallmarks such as cholinergic status and brain miRNA profiles. Collectively, our results suggest a novel role for HP1BP3 in regulating maternal and anxiety-related behavior in mice and call for exploring ways to manipulate this epigenetic process.




Center for Clinical and Translational Research, Maine Medical Center Research Institute, Scarborough, ME.

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