Altered activity, social behavior, and spatial memory in mice lacking the NTAN1p amidase and the asparagine branch of the N-end rule pathway

Mol Cell Biol. 2000 Jun;20(11):4135-48. doi: 10.1128/MCB.20.11.4135-4148.2000.


The N-end rule relates the in vivo half-life of a protein to the identity of its N-terminal residue. N-terminal asparagine and glutamine are tertiary destabilizing residues, in that they are enzymatically deamidated to yield secondary destabilizing residues aspartate and glutamate, which are conjugated to arginine, a primary destabilizing residue. N-terminal arginine of a substrate protein is bound by the Ubr1-encoded E3alpha, the E3 component of the ubiquitin-proteasome-dependent N-end rule pathway. We describe the construction and analysis of mouse strains lacking the asparagine-specific N-terminal amidase (Nt(N)-amidase), encoded by the Ntan1 gene. In wild-type embryos, Ntan1 was strongly expressed in the branchial arches and in the tail and limb buds. The Ntan1(-/-) mouse strains lacked the Nt(N)-amidase activity but retained glutamine-specific Nt(Q)-amidase, indicating that the two enzymes are encoded by different genes. Among the normally short-lived N-end rule substrates, only those bearing N-terminal asparagine became long-lived in Ntan1(-/-) fibroblasts. The Ntan1(-/-) mice were fertile and outwardly normal but differed from their congenic wild-type counterparts in spontaneous activity, spatial memory, and a socially conditioned exploratory phenotype that has not been previously described with other mouse strains.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amidohydrolases / genetics
  • Amidohydrolases / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Asparagine*
  • Behavior, Animal*
  • Escape Reaction
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Intracellular Fluid / metabolism
  • Learning
  • Male
  • Memory*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Social Behavior


  • Asparagine
  • Amidohydrolases
  • N-terminal asparagine amidohydrolase