Calcineurin (Cn), a phosphatase important for synaptic plasticity and neuronal development, has been implicated in the etiology and pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorders, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s disease. Forebrain-specific conditional Cn knockout mice have been known to exhibit multiple behavioral phenotypes related to these disorders. In this study, we investigated whether Cn mutant mice show pseudo-immaturity of the dentate gyrus (iDG) in the hippocampus, which we have proposed as an endophenotype shared by these disorders. Expression of calbindin and GluA1, typical markers for mature DG granule cells (GCs), was decreased and that of doublecortin, calretinin, phospho-CREB, and dopamine D1 receptor (Drd1), markers for immature GC, was increased in Cn mutants. Phosphorylation of cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA) substrates (GluA1, ERK2, DARPP-32, PDE4) was increased and showed higher sensitivity to SKF81297, a Drd1-like agonist, in Cn mutants than in controls. While cAMP/PKA signaling is increased in the iDG of Cn mutants, chronic treatment with rolipram, a selective PDE4 inhibitor that increases intracellular cAMP, ameliorated the iDG phenotype significantly and nesting behavior deficits with nominal significance. Chronic rolipram administration also decreased the phosphorylation of CREB, but not the other four PKA substrates examined, in Cn mutants. These results suggest that Cn deficiency induces pseudo-immaturity of GCs and that cAMP signaling increases to compensate for this maturation abnormality. This study further supports the idea that iDG is an endophenotype shared by certain neuropsychiatric disorders.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience