Background: Lowered sensitivity to the effects of ethanol increases the risk of developing alcoholism. Inbred mouse strains have been useful for the study of the genetic basis of various drug addiction-related phenotypes. Inbred Long-Sleep (ILS) and Inbred Short-Sleep (ISS) mice differentially express a number of genes thought to be implicated in sensitivity to the effects of ethanol. Concomitantly, there is evidence for a mediating role of cAMP/PKA/CREB signalling in aspects of alcoholism modelled in animals. In this report, the extent to which CREB signalling impacts the differential expression of genes in ILS and ISS mouse cerebella is examined. Results: A training dataset for Machine Learning (ML) and Exploratory Data Analyses (EDA) was generated from promoter region sequences of a set of genes known to be targets of CREB transcription regulation and a set of genes whose transcription regulations are potentially CREB-independent. For each promoter sequence, a vector of size 132, with elements characterizing nucleotide composition features was generated. Genes whose expressions have been previously determined to be increased in ILS or ISS cerebella were identified, and their CREB regulation status predicted using the ML scheme C4.5. The C4.5 learning scheme was used because, of four ML schemes evaluated, it had the lowest predicted error rate. On an independent evaluation set of 21 genes of known CREB regulation status, C4.5 correctly classified 81% of instances with F-measures of 0.87 and 0.67 respectively for the CREB-regulated and CREB-independent classes. Additionally, six out of eight genes previously determined by two independent microarray platforms to be upregulated in the ILS or ISS cerebellum were predicted by C4.5 to be transcriptionally regulated by CREB. Furthermore, 64% and 52% of a cross-section of other up-regulated cerebellar genes in ILS and ISS mice, respectively, were deemed to be CREB-regulated. Conclusion: These observations collectively suggest that ethanol sensitivity, as it relates to the cerebellum, may be associated with CREB transcription activity.
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