Behavioral analysis of NR2C knockout mouse reveals deficit in acquisition of conditioned fear and working memory

Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2011 May;95(4):404-14. doi: 10.1016/j.nlm.2011.01.008. Epub 2011 Feb 2.


N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors play an important role in excitatory neurotransmission and mediate synaptic plasticity associated with learning and memory. NMDA receptors are composed of two NR1 and two NR2 subunits and the identity of the NR2 subunit confers unique electrophysiologic and pharmacologic properties to the receptor. The precise role of NR2C-containing receptors in vivo is poorly understood. We have performed a battery of behavioral tests on NR2C knockout/nβ-galactosidase knock-in mice and found no difference in spontaneous activity, basal anxiety, forced-swim immobility, novel object recognition, pain sensitivity and reference memory in comparison to wildtype counterparts. However, NR2C knockout mice were found to exhibit deficits in fear acquisition and working memory compared to wildtype mice. Deficit in fear acquisition correlated with lack of fear conditioning-induced plasticity at the thalamo-amygdala synapse. These findings suggest a unique role of NR2C-containing receptors in associative and executive learning representing a novel therapeutic target for deficits in cognition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / physiology
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Association Learning / physiology*
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology*
  • Exploratory Behavior / physiology
  • Fear / physiology*
  • Gene Knock-In Techniques
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / physiology
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Protein Subunits
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / genetics
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / physiology*
  • Thalamus / physiology
  • beta-Galactosidase / genetics
  • beta-Galactosidase / metabolism


  • NR2C NMDA receptor
  • Protein Subunits
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • beta-Galactosidase