Neurobiological effects of a null mutation depend on genetic context: comparison between two hotfoot alleles of the delta-2 ionotropic glutamate receptor

Neuroscience. 2001;105(2):443-55. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4522(01)00193-2.


Hotfoot is a mutant mouse with an ataxic phenotype which has been shown to be due to a mutation in the Grid2 gene. In this paper, we compare molecular, morphological, electrophysiological and behavioral features of two Grid2 alleles: Grid2(ho-4J) and Grid2(ho-Nancy). We first show that these two mutations are deletions in the open reading frame of the gene and that no GRID2 protein is detectable in extracts of mutant cerebella, suggesting that the two alleles are null-like mutations. Morphological and electrophysiological analyses reveal no obvious differences between the two strains: both strains showed the naked Purkinje dendritic spines and mismatch between the length of the presynaptic active zone and postsynaptic differentiation characteristic of the hotfoot mutation; and the same low level (20%) of multiple climbing fiber innervation of Purkinje cells was found in both strains. Only differences in motor behavior were found between the two strains. The Grid2(ho-4J) mouse shows more severe ataxia that the Grid2(ho-Nancy) mouse and, although both strains show a clear capacity to improve their performance of a motor task with training, the Grid2(ho-4J) performance remains very poor whereas Grid2(ho-Nancy) mice approach control levels. The only difference between the two strains is their genetic background. Our results show that the genetic background must be taken into account when analyzing sensorimotor performances of mutant mice.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / abnormalities
  • Afferent Pathways / metabolism
  • Afferent Pathways / ultrastructure
  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cerebellar Cortex / abnormalities*
  • Cerebellar Cortex / metabolism
  • Cerebellar Cortex / ultrastructure
  • Cerebellar Diseases / genetics
  • Cerebellar Diseases / pathology
  • Cerebellar Diseases / physiopathology
  • Frameshift Mutation / physiology*
  • Gene Deletion*
  • Membrane Potentials / genetics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Neurologic Mutants / abnormalities*
  • Mice, Neurologic Mutants / genetics
  • Mice, Neurologic Mutants / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Movement Disorders / genetics
  • Movement Disorders / pathology
  • Movement Disorders / physiopathology
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Phenotype
  • Purkinje Cells / metabolism
  • Purkinje Cells / pathology*
  • Purkinje Cells / ultrastructure
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Receptors, Glutamate / deficiency*
  • Receptors, Glutamate / genetics
  • Synapses / metabolism
  • Synapses / pathology*
  • Synapses / ultrastructure


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • glutamate receptor delta 2