Rationale: A microdeletion at locus 15q13.3 is associated with high incidence rates of psychopathology, including schizophrenia. A mouse model of the 15q13.3 microdeletion syndrome has been generated (Df[h15q13]/+) with translational utility for modelling schizophrenia-like pathology. Among other deficits, schizophrenia is characterised by dysfunctions in prefrontal cortical (PFC) inhibitory circuitry and attention.
Objectives: The objective of this study is to assess PFC-dependent functioning in the Df(h15q13)/+ mouse using electrophysiological, pharmacological, and behavioural assays.
Method: Experiments 1-2 investigated baseline firing and auditory-evoked responses of PFC interneurons and pyramidal neurons. Experiment 3 measured pyramidal firing in response to intra-PFC GABAA receptor antagonism. Experiments 4-6 assessed PFC-dependent attentional functioning through the touchscreen 5-choice serial reaction time task (5-CSRTT). Experiments 7-12 assessed reversal learning, paired-associate learning, extinction learning, progressive ratio, trial-unique non-match to sample, and object recognition.
Results: In experiments 1-3, the Df(h15q13)/+ mouse showed reduced baseline firing rate of fast-spiking interneurons and in the ability of the GABAA receptor antagonist gabazine to increase the firing rate of pyramidal neurons. In assays of auditory-evoked responses, PFC interneurons in the Df(h15q13)/+ mouse had reduced detection amplitudes and increased detection latencies, while pyramidal neurons showed increased detection latencies. In experiments 4-6, the Df(h15q13)/+ mouse showed a stimulus duration-dependent decrease in percent accuracy in the 5-CSRTT. The impairment was insensitive to treatment with the partial α7nAChR agonist EVP-6124. The Df(h15q13)/+ mouse showed no cognitive impairments in experiments 7-12.
Conclusion: The Df(h15q13)/+ mouse has multiple dysfunctions converging on disrupted PFC processing as measured by several independent assays of inhibitory transmission and attentional function.
Keywords: 15q13.3; Animal model; Chrna7; Cognition; Copy number variation; Neurophysiology; Prefrontal cortex.