Cell-Type-Specific Shank2 Deletion in Mice Leads to Differential Synaptic and Behavioral Phenotypes

J Neurosci. 2018 Apr 25;38(17):4076-4092. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2684-17.2018. Epub 2018 Mar 23.


Shank2 is an excitatory postsynaptic scaffolding protein implicated in synaptic regulation and psychiatric disorders including autism spectrum disorders. Conventional Shank2-mutant (Shank2-/-) mice display several autistic-like behaviors, including social deficits, repetitive behaviors, hyperactivity, and anxiety-like behaviors. However, cell-type-specific contributions to these behaviors have remained largely unclear. Here, we deleted Shank2 in specific cell types and found that male mice lacking Shank2 in excitatory neurons (CaMKII-Cre;Shank2fl/fl) show social interaction deficits and mild social communication deficits, hyperactivity, and anxiety-like behaviors. In particular, male mice lacking Shank2 in GABAergic inhibitory neurons (Viaat-Cre;Shank2fl/fl) display social communication deficits, repetitive self-grooming, and mild hyperactivity. These behavioral changes were associated with distinct changes in hippocampal and striatal synaptic transmission in the two mouse lines. These results indicate that cell-type-specific deletions of Shank2 in mice lead to differential synaptic and behavioral abnormalities.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Shank2 is an abundant excitatory postsynaptic scaffolding protein implicated in the regulation of excitatory synapses and diverse psychiatric disorders including autism spectrum disorders. Previous studies have reported in vivo functions of Shank2 mainly using global Shank2-null mice, but it remains largely unclear how individual cell types contribute to Shank2-dependent regulation of neuronal synapses and behaviors. Here, we have characterized conditional Shank2-mutant mice carrying the Shank2 deletion in excitatory and inhibitory neurons. These mouse lines display distinct alterations of synaptic transmission in the hippocampus and striatum that are associated with differential behavioral abnormalities in social, repetitive, locomotor, and anxiety-like domains.

Keywords: Shank2; autism; cell type; excitatory; inhibitory; synapse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anxiety / genetics*
  • Anxiety / physiopathology
  • Corpus Striatum / cytology
  • Corpus Striatum / metabolism
  • Corpus Striatum / physiology
  • GABAergic Neurons / metabolism*
  • GABAergic Neurons / physiology
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Motor Activity
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Phenotype
  • Synaptic Transmission*


  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Shank2 protein, mouse