Background: Neuroplastin cell recognition molecules have been implicated in synaptic plasticity. Polymorphisms in the regulatory region of the human neuroplastin gene (NPTN) are correlated with cortical thickness and intellectual abilities in adolescents and in individuals with schizophrenia.
Methods: We characterized behavioral and functional changes in inducible conditional neuroplastin-deficient mice.
Results: We demonstrate that neuroplastins are required for associative learning in conditioning paradigms, e.g., two-way active avoidance and fear conditioning. Retrograde amnesia of learned associative memories is elicited by inducible neuron-specific ablation of Nptn gene expression in adult mice, which shows that neuroplastins are indispensable for the availability of previously acquired associative memories. Using single-photon emission computed tomography imaging in awake mice, we identified brain structures activated during memory recall. Constitutive neuroplastin deficiency or Nptn gene ablation in adult mice causes substantial electrophysiologic deficits such as reduced long-term potentiation. In addition, neuroplastin-deficient mice reveal profound physiologic and behavioral deficits, some of which are related to depression and schizophrenia, which illustrate neuroplastin's essential functions.
Conclusions: Neuroplastins are essential for learning and memory. Retrograde amnesia after an associative learning task can be induced by ablation of the neuroplastin gene. The inducible neuroplastin-deficient mouse model provides a new and unique means to analyze the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying retrograde amnesia and memory.
Keywords: Associative memory; Knockout mouse model; Learning impairment; Neuroplastin; Retrograde amnesia; Synaptic plasticity.
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