The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience

X11-like protein deficiency is associated with impaired conflict resolution in mice.

PMID 19420255


Understanding how emotion is generated, how conflicting emotions are regulated, and how emotional states relate to sophisticated behaviors is a crucial challenge in brain research. Model animals showing selective emotion-related phenotypes are highly useful for examining these issues. Here, we describe a novel mouse model that withdraws in approach-avoidance conflicts. X11-like (X11L)/Mint2 is a neuronal adapter protein with multiple protein-protein interaction domains that interacts with several proteins involved in modulating neuronal activity. X11L-knock-out (KO) mice were subordinate under competitive feeding conditions. X11L-KO mice lost significantly more weight than cohoused wild-type mice without signs of decreased motivation to eat or physical weakness. In a resident-intruder test, X11L-KO mice showed decreased intruder exploration behavior. Moreover, X11L-KO mice displayed decreased marble-burying, digging and burrowing behaviors, indicating aberrant ethological responses to attractive stimuli. In contrast, X11L-KO mice were indistinguishable from wild-type mice in the open field, elevated plus maze, and light/dark transition tests, which are often used to assess anxiety-like behavior. Neurochemical analysis revealed a monoamine imbalance in several forebrain regions. The defective ethological responses and social behaviors in X11L-KO mice were rescued by the expression of X11L under a Camk2a promoter using the Tet-OFF system during development. These findings suggest that X11L is involved in the development of neuronal circuits that contribute to conflict resolution.