Netrin-1 was initially characterized as an axon guidance molecule that is essential for normal embryonic neural development; however, many types of neurons continue to express netrin-1 in the postnatal and adult mammalian brain. Netrin-1 and the netrin receptor DCC are both enriched at synapses. In the adult hippocampus, activity-dependent secretion of netrin-1 by neurons potentiates glutamatergic synapse function, and is critical for long-term potentiation, an experimental cellular model of learning and memory. Here, we assessed the impact of neuronal expression of netrin-1 in the adult brain on behavior using tests of learning and memory. We show that adult mice exhibit impaired spatial memory following conditional deletion of netrin-1 from glutamatergic neurons in the hippocampus and neocortex. Further, we provide evidence that mice with conditional deletion of netrin-1 do not display aberrant anxiety-like phenotypes and show a reduction in self-grooming behavior. These findings reveal a critical role for netrin-1 expressed by neurons in the regulation of spatial memory formation.
© 2019 Wong et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.