Aims: Synaptic Ras GTPase-activating protein 1 (SYNGAP1) regulates synaptic plasticity through AMPA receptor trafficking. SYNGAP1 mutations have been found in human patients with intellectual disability (ID) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Almost every individual with SYNGAP1-related ID develops epilepsy, and approximately 50% have ASD. SYNGAP1-related ID is estimated to account for at least 1% of ID cases. In mouse models with Syngap1 mutations, strong cognitive and affective dysfunctions have been reported, yet some findings are inconsistent across studies. To further understand the behavioral significance of the SYNGAP1 gene, we assessed various domains of behavior in Syngap1 heterozygous mutant mice using a behavioral test battery.
Methods: Male mice with a heterozygous mutation in the Syngap1 gene (Syngap1-/+ mice) created by Seth Grant's group were subjected to a battery of comprehensive behavioral tests, which examined general health, and neurological screens, rotarod, hot plate, open field, light/dark transition, elevated plus maze, social interaction, prepulse inhibition, Porsolt forced swim, tail suspension, gait analysis, T-maze, Y-maze, Barnes maze, contextual and cued fear conditioning, and home cage locomotor activity. To control for type I errors due to multiple-hypothesis testing, P-values below the false discovery rate calculated by the Benjamini-Hochberg method were considered as study-wide statistically significant.
Results: Syngap1-/+ mice showed increased locomotor activity, decreased prepulse inhibition, and impaired working and reference spatial memory, consistent with preceding studies. Impairment of context fear memory and increased startle reflex in Syngap1 mutant mice could not be reproduced. Significant decreases in sensitivity to painful stimuli and impaired motor function were observed in Syngap1-/+ mice. Decreased anxiety-like behavior and depression-like behavior were noted, although increased locomotor activity is a potential confounding factor of these phenotypes. Increased home cage locomotor activity indicated hyperlocomotor activity not only in specific behavioral test conditions but also in familiar environments.
Conclusion: In Syngap1-/+ mice, we could reproduce most of the previously reported cognitive and emotional deficits. The decreased sensitivity to painful stimuli and impaired motor function that we found in Syngap1-/+ mice are consistent with the common characteristics of patients with SYNGAP-related ID. We further confirmed that the Syngap1 heterozygote mouse recapitulates the symptoms of ID and ASD patients.
Keywords: SYNGAP1; autism spectrum disorder; intellectual disability; motor function; nociception.
© 2019 The Authors. Neuropsychopharmacology Reports published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd on behalf of The Japanese Society of Neuropsycho Pharmacology.