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J Neurosci. 2003 Jun 1;23(11):4667-76.

Degeneration of the amygdala/piriform cortex and enhanced fear/anxiety behaviors in sodium pump alpha2 subunit (Atp1a2)-deficient mice.

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Department of Biology Jichi Medical School, Kawachi, Tochigi 329-0498, Japan.


The sodium pump is the enzyme responsible for the maintenance of Na+ and K+ gradients across the cell membrane. Four isoforms of the catalytic alpha subunit have been identified, but their individual roles remain essentially unknown. To investigate the necessary functions of the alpha2 subunit in vivo, we generated and analyzed mice defective in the alpha2 subunit gene. Mice homozygous for the alpha2 mutation died just after birth and displayed selective neuronal apoptosis in the amygdala and piriform cortex. In these regions, high expression of c-Fos before apoptosis indicated neural hyperactivity, and re-uptake of glutamic acid and GABA into P2 fraction containing crude synaptosome was impaired. These results indicate that the alpha2 subunit plays a critical role regulating neural activity in the developing amygdala and piriform cortex. Further supporting a role of the alpha2 subunit in the function of the amygdala, heterozygous adult mice showed augmented fear/anxiety behaviors and enhanced neuronal activity in the amygdala and piriform cortex after conditioned fear stimuli.

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