Animals vary in their sensitivity to ethanol, a trait at least partly determined by genetic factors. In order to identify possible responsible genes, mice lacking Fyn, a non-receptor type tyrosine kinase, were investigated. These mice were hypersensitive to the hypnotic effect of ethanol. The administration of ethanol enhanced tyrosine phosphorylation of the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) in the hippocampus of control mice but not in Fyn-deficient mice. An acute tolerance to ethanol inhibition of NMDAR-mediated excitatory postsynaptic potentials in hippocampal slices developed in control mice but not in Fyn-deficient mice. These results indicate that Fyn affects behavioral, biochemical, and physiological responses to ethanol.
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