Consequences of VGluT3 deficiency on learning and memory in mice

Physiol Behav. 2019 Dec 1:212:112688. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2019.112688. Epub 2019 Oct 14.


The aim of the present study was to test the hypothesis that vesicular glutamate transporter 3 (VGluT3) deficiency is associated with cognitive impairments. Male VGluT3 knockout (KO) and wild type (WT) mice were exposed to a behavioral test battery covering paradigms based on spontaneous exploratory behavior and reinforcement-based learning tests. Reversal learning was examined to test the cognitive flexibility. The VGluT3 KO mice clearly exhibited the ability to learn. The social recognition memory of KO mice was intact. The y-maze test revealed weaker working memory of VGluT3 KO mice. No significant learning impairments were noticed in operant conditioning or holeboard discrimination paradigm. In avoidance-based learning tests (Morris water maze and active avoidance), KO mice exhibited slightly slower learning process compared to WT mice, but not a complete learning impairment. In tests based on simple associations (operant conditioning, avoidance learning) an attenuation of cognitive flexibility was observed in KO mice. In conclusion, knocking out VGluT3 results in mild disturbances in working memory and learning flexibility. Apparently, this glutamate transporter is not a major player in learning and memory formation in general. Based on previous characteristics of VGluT3 KO mice we would have expected a stronger deficit. The observed hypolocomotion did not contribute to the mild cognitive disturbances herein reported, either.

Keywords: Active avoidance; Holeboard discrimination; Morris water maze; Operant conditioning; Y-maze.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Transport Systems, Acidic / deficiency*
  • Amino Acid Transport Systems, Acidic / genetics
  • Amino Acid Transport Systems, Acidic / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Avoidance Learning / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Conditioning, Operant / physiology
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology
  • Male
  • Maze Learning
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Motor Activity
  • Reversal Learning / physiology


  • Amino Acid Transport Systems, Acidic
  • vesicular glutamate transporter 3, mouse