Spock3/Testican-3 is a nervous system-expressed heparan sulfate proteoglycan belonging to a subgroup of the BM-40/SPARC/osteonectin family, the role of which in brain development is unclear. Because Spock1, a member of the Spock family, inhibits their attachment to substrates and the neurite outgrowth of cultured neuronal cells, Spock3 is also thought to be similarly involved in the neuronal development. In the present study, we established a Spock3-mutant mouse harboring a deletion extending from the presumptive upstream regulatory region to exon 4 of the Spock3 locus and performed histological and behavioral studies on these mutant mice. In wild-type (WT) mice, all Spock members were clearly expressed during brain development. In adults, intense Spock1 and Spock2 expressions were observed throughout the entire brain; whereas, Spock3 expression was no longer visible except in the thalamic nuclei. Thus, Spock3 expression is mostly confined to the developmental stage of the brain. In adult mutant mice, the cells of all cortical layers were swollen. The corpus callosum was narrowed around the central region along the rostral-caudal axis and many small spaces were observed without myelin sheaths throughout the entire corpus callosum. In addition, the cortical input and output fibers did not form into thick bundled fibers as well as the WT counterparts did. Moreover, a subpopulation of corticospinal axonal fibers penetrated into the dorsal striatum with moderately altered orientations. Consistent with these modifications of brain structures, the mutant mice exhibited decreased anxiety-like behavior and lowered sociability. Together, these results demonstrate that Spock3 plays an important role in the formation or maintenance of major neuronal structures in the brain.
© 2014 S. Karger AG, Basel.