Enhanced Hippocampal Long-Term Potentiation and Fear Memory in Btbd9 Mutant Mice
by Mark P. DeAndrade, Li Zhang, Atbin Doroodchi, Fumiaki Yokoi, Chad C. Cheetham, Huan-Xin Chen, Steven N. Roper, J. David Sweatt, Yuqing Li
Polymorphisms in BTBD9 have recently been associated with higher risk of restless legs syndrome (RLS), a neurological disorder characterized by uncomfortable sensations in the legs at rest that are relieved by movement. The BTBD9 protein contains a BTB/POZ domain and a BACK domain, but its function is unknown. To elucidate its function and potential role in the pathophysiology of RLS, we generated a line of mutant Btbd9 mice derived from a commercial gene-trap embryonic stem cell clone. Btbd9 is the mouse homolog of the human BTBD9. Proteins that contain a BTB/POZ domain have been reported to be associated with synaptic transmission and plasticity. We found that Btbd9 is naturally expressed in the hippocampus of our mutant mice, a region critical for learning and memory. As electrophysiological characteristics of CA3-CA1 synapses of the hippocampus are well characterized, we performed electrophysiological recordings in this region. The mutant mice showed normal input-output relationship, a significant impairment in pre-synaptic activity, and an enhanced long-term potentiation. We further performed an analysis of fear memory and found the mutant mice had an enhanced cued and contextual fear memory. To elucidate a possible molecular basis for these enhancements, we analyzed proteins that have been associated with synaptic plasticity. We found an elevated level of dynamin 1, an enzyme associated with endocytosis, in the mutant mice. These results suggest the first identified function of Btbd9 as being involved in regulating synaptic plasticity and memory. Recent studies have suggested that enhanced synaptic plasticity, analogous to what we have observed, in other regions of the brain could enhance sensory perception similar to what is seen in RLS patients. Further analyses of the mutant mice will help shine light on the function of BTBD9 and its role in RLS.
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