Comprehensive behavioral analyses of mice with a glycine receptor alpha 4 deficiency

Mohamed Darwish, Satoko Hattori, Hirofumi Nishizono, Tsuyoshi Miyakawa, Nozomu Yachie, Keizo Takao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Glycine receptors (GlyRs) are ligand-gated chloride channels comprising alpha (α1–4) and β subunits. The GlyR subunits play major roles in the mammalian central nervous system, ranging from regulating simple sensory information to modulating higher-order brain function. Unlike the other GlyR subunits, GlyR α4 receives relatively little attention because the human ortholog lacks a transmembrane domain and is thus considered a pseudogene. A recent genetic study reported that the GLRA4 pseudogene locus on the X chromosome is potentially involved in cognitive impairment, motor delay and craniofacial anomalies in humans. The physiologic roles of GlyR α4 in mammal behavior and its involvement in disease, however, are not known. Here we examined the temporal and spatial expression profile of GlyR α4 in the mouse brain and subjected Glra4 mutant mice to a comprehensive behavioral analysis to elucidate the role of GlyR α4 in behavior. The GlyR α4 subunit was mainly enriched in the hindbrain and midbrain, and had relatively lower expression in the thalamus, cerebellum, hypothalamus, and olfactory bulb. In addition, expression of the GlyR α4 subunit gradually increased during brain development. Glra4 mutant mice exhibited a decreased amplitude and delayed onset of the startle response compared with wild-type littermates, and increased social interaction in the home cage during the dark period. Glra4 mutants also had a low percentage of entries into open arms in the elevated plus-maze test. Although mice with GlyR α4 deficiency did not show motor and learning abnormalities reported to be associated in human genomics studies, they exhibited behavioral changes in startle response and social and anxiety-like behavior. Our data clarify the spatiotemporal expression pattern of the GlyR α4 subunit and suggest that glycinergic signaling modulates social, startle, and anxiety-like behaviors in mice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number44
JournalMolecular brain
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12-2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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