Fgf9 Y162C Mutation Alters Information Processing and Social Memory in Mice
In neuropsychiatric diseases, such as major depression and anxiety, pathogenic vulnerability is partially dictated by a genetic predisposition. The search continues to define this genetic susceptibility and establish new genetic elements as potential therapeutic targets. The fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) could be interesting in this regard. This family of signaling molecules plays important roles in development while also functioning within the adult. This includes effects on aspects of brain function such as neurogenesis and synapse formation. Of this family, Fgf9 is expressed in the adult brain, but its functional role is less well defined. In this study, we examined the role of Fgf9 in different brain functions by analyzing the behavior of Fgf9 Y162C mutant mice, an Fgf9 allele without the confounding systemic effects of other Fgf9 genetic models. Here, we show that this mutation caused altered locomotor and exploratory reactivity to novel, mildly stressful environments. In addition, mutants showed heightened acoustic startle reactivity as well as impaired social discrimination memory. Notably, there was a substantial decrease in the level of adult olfactory bulb neurogenesis with no difference in hippocampal neurogenesis. Collectively, our findings indicate a role for the Fgf9 Y162C mutation in information processing and perception of aversive situations as well as in social memory. Thus, genetic alterations in Fgf9 could increase vulnerability to developing neuropsychiatric disease, and we propose the Fgf9 Y162C mutant mice as a valuable tool to study the predictive etiological aspects.
KeywordsFibroblast growth factor 9 Neuropsychiatric disease Mice Brain Adult neurogenesis
The authors thank all the technicians from the German Mouse Clinic: Jan Einicke, Birgit Frankenberger, Sandra Geißler, Christine Hollauer, Maria Kugler, Simon Orth, Yvonne Sonntag, and Bettina Sperling as well as Erika Bürkle and Monika Stadler for the breeding of the cohorts. Thanks also to Amy Gorol for careful editing of the manuscript and to Hugh Garrett for the graphic artwork. This work has been funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research to the GMC (Infrafrontier grant 01KX1012), to the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD e.V.), the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) through the Integrated Network MitoPD (Mitochondrial endophenotypes of Morbus Parkinson), under the auspices of the e:Med Programme (grant 031A430E) as well as by the Helmholtz Portfolio Theme ‘Supercomputing and Modelling for the Human Brain’ (SMHB) to WW.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Mice were kept under specific pathogen-free conditions at the Helmholtz Center Munich. The use of animals was in accordance with the German Law of Animal Protection, the ARVO Statement for the Use of Animals in Ophthalmic and Vision Research, and the tenets of the Declaration of Helsinki. All tests performed and described here were approved for the ethical treatment of animals by the responsible authority of the Regierung von Oberbayern (Government of Upper Bavaria).
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