Performance deficits of mGluR8 knockout mice in learning tasks: the effects of null mutation and the background genotype

Neuropharmacology. 2002 Aug;43(2):235-49. doi: 10.1016/s0028-3908(02)00078-3.


mGluR8 is a G-protein coupled metabotropic glutamate receptor expressed in the mammalian brain. Members of the mGluR family have been shown to be modulators of neural plasticity and learning and memory. Here we analyze the consequences of a null mutation at the mGluR8 gene locus generated using homologous recombination in embryonic stem cells by comparing the learning performance of the mutants with that of wild type controls in the Morris water maze (MWM) and the context and cue dependent fear conditioning (CFC). Our results revealed robust performance deficits associated with the genetic background, the ICR outbred strain, in both mGluR8 null mutant and the wild type control mice. Mice of this strain origin suffered from impaired vision as compared to CD1 or C57BL/6 mice, a significant impediment in MWM, a visuo-spatial learning task. The CFC task, being less dependent on visual cues, allowed us to reveal subtle performance deficits in the mGluR8 mutants: novelty induced hyperactivity and temporally delayed and blunted responding to shocks and temporally delayed responding to contextual stimuli were detected. The role of mGluR8 as a presynaptic autoreceptor and its contribution to cognitive processes are hypothesized and the utility of gene targeting as compared to pharmacological methods is discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders / genetics*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mutation / genetics*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate / deficiency*
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate / genetics*


  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate
  • metabotropic glutamate receptor 8