Male and female Fmr1 knockout mice on C57 albino background exhibit spatial learning and memory impairments

Genes Brain Behav. 2010 Aug;9(6):562-74. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-183X.2010.00585.x. Epub 2010 Apr 6.


Impaired spatial learning is a prominent deficit in fragile X syndrome (FXS). Previous studies using the Fmr1 knockout (KO) mouse model of FXS have not consistently reported a deficit in spatial learning. Fmr1 KO mice bred onto an albino C57BL/6J-Tyr(c-Brd) background showed significant deficits in several primary measures of performance during place navigation and probe trials in the Morris water maze. Fmr1 KO mice were also impaired during a serial reversal version of the water maze task. We examined fear conditioning as an additional cognitive screen. Knockout mice exhibited contextual memory deficits when trained with unsignaled shocks; however, deficits were not found in a separate group of KO mice trained with signaled shocks. No potentially confounding genotypic differences in locomotor activity were observed. A decreased anxiety-like profile was apparent in the open field, as others have noted, and also in the platform test. Also as previously reported, startle reactivity to loud auditory stimuli was decreased, prepulse inhibition and social interaction increased in KO mice. Female Fmr1 KO mice were tested along with male KO mice in all assays, except for social interaction. The female and male KO exhibited very similar impairments indicating that sex does not generally drive the behavioral symptoms of the disorder. Our results suggest that procedural factors, such as the use of albino mice, may help to reliably detect spatial learning and memory impairments in both sexes of Fmr1 KO mice, making it more useful for understanding FXS and a platform for evaluating potential therapeutics.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Albinism / genetics
  • Animals
  • Anxiety
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Conditioning, Psychological
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Fear
  • Female
  • Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein / genetics*
  • Fragile X Syndrome / genetics*
  • Male
  • Maze Learning*
  • Memory*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Motor Activity
  • Phenotype
  • Reflex, Startle


  • Fmr1 protein, mouse
  • Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein