The Reelin gene (RELN) encodes a large extracellular protein, which has multiple roles in brain development and adult brain function. It activates a series of neuronal signal transduction pathways in the adult brain that function in synaptic plasticity, dendritic morphology, and cognitive function. To further investigate the roles of Reln in brain function, we generated a mouse line using the C57BL/6 J strain with the specific Reln deletion identified from a Japanese patient with schizophrenia (Reln-del mice). These mice exhibited abnormal sociality, but the pathophysiological significance of the Reln deletion for higher brain functions, such as learning and behavioral flexibility remains unclear. In this study, cognitive function in Reln-del mice was assessed using touchscreen-based visual discrimination (VD) and reversal learning (RL) tasks. Reln-del mice showed normal learning in the simple VD task, but the learning was delayed in the complex VD task as compared to their wild-type (WT) littermates. In the RL task, sessions were divided into early perseverative phase (sessions with <50% correct) and later learning phase (sessions with ≥50% correct). Reln-del mice showed normal perseveration but impaired relearning ability in both simple RL and complex RL task as compared to WT mice. These results suggest that Reln-del mice have impaired learning ability, but the behavioral flexibility is unaffected. Overall, the observed behavioral abnormalities in Reln-del mice suggest that this mouse model is a useful preclinical tool for investigating the neurobiological mechanism underlying cognitive impairments in schizophrenia and a therapeutic strategy.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Behavioral Neuroscience