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Behav Brain Res. 2006 Feb 15;167(1):42-8. Epub 2005 Oct 10.

Heterozygous mice with Ric-8 mutation exhibit impaired spatial memory and decreased anxiety.

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Department of Integrative Zoology, University of Tartu, 46 Vanemuise St., Tartu 51014, Estonia.


Ric-8 is a guanine nucleotide exchange factor for a subset of Galpha proteins and it is required to maintain Galpha(q) and the Galpha(s) pathways in functional state. In adult mice Ric-8 is expressed in regions involved in the regulation of behavior (neocortex, cingulate cortex and hippocampus). As Ric-8 is shown to regulate neuronal transmitter release, the aim of present study was to perform behavioral analysis of ric-8 mutant. Homozygous (-/-) ric-8 mutant mice are not viable and die in early embryonic development, therefore for behavioral analysis heterozygous (+/-) ric-8 mutant mice were used. We found decreased anxiety of ric-8 heterozygous mice in light-dark compartment test where mutant mice significantly avoided the light compartment. In spatial learning paradigm (Morris water maze) the performance of ric-8 (+/-) mice was impaired. Namely, in the reversal test, ric-8 (+/-) mice exhibited significant delay to find the hidden platform compared to wild-type (wt) littermates. We did not find differences in the behavioral tests reflecting the motor abilities of mice (motor activity, rota-rod). Therefore, described alterations seem to be specific for anxiety and spatial learning. Based on these results we can conclude the importance of ric-8 in the regulation of memory and emotional behavior.

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