Background: BMP/RA-inducible neural-specific protein 1 (Brinp1) is highly conserved in vertebrates, and continuously expressed in the neocortex, hippocampus, olfactory bulb and cerebellum from mid-embryonic development through to adulthood.
Methods: Brinp1 knock-out (Brinp1(-/-)) mice were generated by Cre-recombinase-mediated removal of the third exon of Brinp1. Knock-out mice were characterised by behavioural phenotyping, immunohistochemistry and expression analysis of the developing and adult brain.
Results: Absence of Brinp1 during development results in a behavioural phenotype resembling autism spectrum disorder (ASD), in which knock-out mice show reduced sociability and changes in vocalisation capacity. In addition, Brinp1(-/-) mice exhibit hyper-locomotor activity, have impaired short-term memory, and exhibit poor reproductive success. Brinp1(-/-) mice show increased density of parvalbumin-expressing interneurons in the adult mouse brain. Brinp1(-/-) mice do not show signs of altered neural precursor proliferation or increased apoptosis during late embryonic brain development. The expression of the related neuronal migration genes Astn1 and Astn2 is increased in the brains of Brinp1(-/-) mice, suggesting that they may ameliorate the effects of Brinp1 loss.
Conclusions: Brinp1 plays an important role in normal brain development and function by influencing neuronal distribution within the cortex. The increased cortical PV-positive interneuron density and altered behaviour of Brinp1(-/-) mice resemble features of a subset of human neurological disorders; namely autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and the hyperactivity aspect of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder; Brinp1; Cortex; Hyperactivity; Interneuron; Knock-out; Neurodevelopment; Parvalbumin.