Tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) is the initial and rate-limiting enzyme for the biosynthesis of catecholamines that are considered to be involved in a variety of neuropsychiatric functions. Here, we report behavioral and neuropsychological deficits in mice carrying a single mutated allele of the TH gene in which TH activity in tissues is reduced to ~40% of the wild-type activity. In the mice heterozygous for the TH mutation, noradrenaline accumulation in brain regions was moderately decreased to 73-80% of the wild- type value. Measurement of extracellular noradrenaline level in the frontal cortex by the microdialysis technique showed a reduction in high K+-evoked noradrenaline release in the mutants. The mutant mice displayed impairment in the water-finding task associated with latent learning performance. They also exhibited mild impairment in long-term memory formation in three distinct forms of associative learning, including active avoidance, cued fear conditioning, and conditioned taste aversion. These deficits were restored by the drug-induced stimulation of noradrenergic activity. In contrast, the spatial learning and hippocampal long-term potentiation were normal in the mutants. These results provide genetic evidence that the central noradrenaline system plays an important role in memory formation, particularly in the long-term memory of conditioned learning.
|Number of pages||9|
|Journal||Journal of Neuroscience|
|Publication status||Published - 15-03-2000|
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