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Neuroscience. 2003;122(4):1049-57.

Molecular and behavioral analysis of the R6/1 Huntington's disease transgenic mouse.

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  • 1Section of Neurogenetics, Institute of Medical Biochemistry and Genetics, Dep G, The Panum Institute, University of Copenhagen, Blegdamsvej 3, Building 24.4.24, DK-2200 Copenhagen N, Denmark.


Transgenic mice expressing exon 1 of the human Huntington's disease (HD) gene carrying a 115 CAG repeat (line R6/1) are characterized by a neurologic phenotype involving molecular, behavioral and motor disturbances. We have characterized the R6/1 to establish a set of biomarkers, which could be semi-quantitatively compared. We have measured motor fore- and hindlimb coordination, fore- and hindpaw footprinting, general activity and anxiety, feetclasping, developmental instability. Molecular investigations involved measurements of cannabinoid receptor 1 mRNA, met-enkephalin peptide, dopamine and cyclic AMP-regulated phosphoroprotein 32 kDa and neuronal inclusions. Molecular and behavioral testing was performed on female hemizygotic R6/1 transgenic mice and female wildtype littermates between 6 and 36 weeks of age. We show that the cannabinoid receptor 1 receptor is severely and rapidly downregulated in the R6/1 mouse between the 8(th) to the 10(th) week of age. At 14 weeks of age the first transgenic mice showed a behavioral phenotype measured by feetclasping. However, there was great variation between the individual animals. At 11 weeks of age the mice demonstrated progressively increasing developmental instability as measured by fluctuating asymmetry. Weight differences were evident by 22 weeks of age. Mice tested at 23 and 24 weeks of age showed significant impairments in open field and plus-maze analysis respectively. We observed no significant abnormalities in stride length of the R6/1 mouse model. As the analyzed parameters are easily detected and measured, the R6/1 mouse appears to be a good model for evaluating new drugs or types of therapy for HD.

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