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PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e58566. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0058566. Epub 2013 Mar 5.

Behavioral characteristics of ubiquitin-specific peptidase 46-deficient mice.

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  • 1Division of Biomodeling, Graduate School of Bioagricultural Sciences, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan.


We have previously identified Usp46, which encodes for ubiquitin-specific peptidase 46, as a quantitative trait gene affecting the immobility time of mice in the tail suspension test (TST) and forced swimming test. The mutation that we identified was a 3-bp deletion coding for lysine (Lys 92), and mice with this mutation (MT mice), as well as Usp46 KO mice exhibited shorter TST immobility times. Behavioral pharmacology suggests that the gamma aminobutyric acid A (GABAA) receptor is involved in regulating TST immobility time. In order to understand how far Usp46 controls behavioral phenotypes, which could be related to mental disorders in humans, we subjected Usp46 MT and KO mice to multiple behavioral tests, including the open field test, ethanol preference test, ethanol-induced loss of righting reflex test, sucrose preference test, novelty-suppressed feeding test, marble burying test, and novel object recognition test. Although behavioral phenotypes of the Usp46 MT and KO mice were not always identical, deficiency of Usp46 significantly affected performance in all these tests. In the open field test, activity levels were lower in Usp46 KO mice than wild type (WT) or MT mice. Both MT and KO mice showed lower ethanol preference and shorter recovery times after ethanol administration. Compared to WT mice, Usp46 MT and KO mice exhibited decreased sucrose preference, took longer latency periods to bite pellets, and buried more marbles in the sucrose preference test, novelty-suppressed feeding test, and marble burying test, respectively. In the novel object recognition test, neither MT nor KO mice showed an increase in exploration of a new object 24 hours after training. These findings indicate that Usp46 regulates a wide range of behavioral phenotypes that might be related to human mental disorders and provides insight into the function of USP46 deubiquitinating enzyme in the neural system.

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