Background: Mutations of the SCN2A gene encoding a voltage-gated sodium channel alpha-II subunit Nav1.2 are associated with neurological disorders such as epilepsy, autism spectrum disorders, intellectual disability, and schizophrenia. However, causal relationships and pathogenic mechanisms underlying these neurological defects, especially social and psychiatric features, remain to be elucidated. Methods: We investigated the behavior of mice with a conventional or conditional deletion of Scn2a in a comprehensive test battery including open field, elevated plus maze, light-dark box, three chambers, social dominance tube, resident-intruder, ultrasonic vocalization, and fear conditioning tests. We further monitored the effects of the positive allosteric modulator of AMPA receptors CX516 on these model mice. Results: Conventional heterozygous Scn2a knockout mice (Scn2a KO/+ ) displayed novelty-induced exploratory hyperactivity and increased rearing. The increased vertical activity was reproduced by heterozygous inactivation of Scn2a in dorsal-telencephalic excitatory neurons but not in inhibitory neurons. Moreover, these phenotypes were rescued by treating Scn2a KO/+ mice with CX516. Additionally, Scn2a KO/+ mice displayed mild social behavior impairment, enhanced fear conditioning, and deficient fear extinction. Neuronal activity was intensified in the medial prefrontal cortex of Scn2a KO/+ mice, with an increase in the gamma band. Conclusions: Scn2a KO/+ mice exhibit a spectrum of phenotypes commonly observed in models of schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorder. Treatment with the CX516 ampakine, which ameliorates hyperactivity in these mice, could be a potential therapeutic strategy to rescue some of the disease phenotypes.
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