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Frontiers in cellular neuroscience

Developmental regulation of GABAergic signalling in the hippocampus of neuroligin 3 R451C knock-in mice: an animal model of Autism.


PMID 23761734

Abstract

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) comprise an heterogeneous group of neuro-developmental abnormalities, mainly of genetic origin, characterized by impaired social interactions, communications deficits, and stereotyped behaviors. In a small percentage of cases, ASDs have been found to be associated with single mutations in genes involved in synaptic function. One of these involves the postsynaptic cell adhesion molecule neuroligin (NL) 3. NLs interact with presynaptic neurexins (Nrxs) to ensure a correct cross talk between post and presynaptic specializations. Here, transgenic mice carrying the human R451C mutation of Nlgn3, were used to study GABAergic signaling in the hippocampus early in postnatal life. Whole cell recordings from CA3 pyramidal neurons in slices from NL3(R451C) knock-in mice revealed an enhanced frequency of Giant Depolarizing Potentials (GDPs), as compared to controls. This effect was probably dependent on an increased GABAergic drive to principal cells as demonstrated by the enhanced frequency of miniature GABAA-mediated (GPSCs), but not AMPA-mediated postsynaptic currents (EPSCs). Changes in frequency of mGPSCs were associated with an acceleration of their decay kinetics, in the absence of any change in unitary synaptic conductance or in the number of GABAA receptor channels, as assessed by peak scaled non-stationary fluctuation analysis. The enhanced GABAergic but not glutamatergic transmission early in postnatal life may change the excitatory/inhibitory balance known to play a key role in the construction and refinement of neuronal circuits during postnatal development. This may lead to behavioral deficits reminiscent of those observed in ASDs patients.

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