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Hum Mol Genet. 2008 Jul 15;17(14):2181-9. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddn117. Epub 2008 Apr 15.

Analysis of cerebellar function in Ube3a-deficient mice reveals novel genotype-specific behaviors.

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Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, UTHSC, Memphis, TN 38163, USA.


Angelman syndrome (AS) is a childhood-onset neurogenetic disorder characterized by functionally severe developmental delay with mental retardation, deficits in expressive language, ataxia, appendicular action tremors and unique behaviors such as inappropriate laughter and stimulus-sensitive hyperexcitibility. Most cases of AS are caused by mutations which disrupt expression of maternal UBE3A. Although some progress has been made in understanding hippocampal-related memory and learning aspects of the disorder using Ube3a deficient mice, the numerous motoric abnormalities associated with AS (ataxia, action tremor, dysarthria, dysphagia, sialorrhea and excessive chewing/mouthing behaviors) have not been fully explored with mouse models. Here we use a novel quantifiable analysis of fluid consumption and licking behavior along with a battery of motor tests to examine cerebellar and other motor system defects in Ube3a deficient mice. Mice with a maternally inherited Ube3a deficiency (Ube3a(m-/p+)) show defects in fluid consumption behavior which are different from Ube3a(m-/p-) mice. The rhythm of fluid licking and number of licks per visit were significantly different among the three groups (m-/p-, m-/p+, m+/p+) and indicate that not only was fluid consumption dependent on Ube3a expression in the cerebellum, but may also depend on low levels of Ube3a expression in other brain regions. Additional neurological testing revealed defects in both Ube3a(m-/p+) and Ube3a(m-/p-) mice in rope climbing, grip strength, gait and a raised-beam task. Long-term observation of fluid consumption behavior is the first phenotype reported that differentiates between mice with a maternal loss of function versus complete loss of Ube3a in the brain. The neuronal and molecular mechanisms underlying mouse fluid consumption defects specifically associated with maternally inherited Ube3a deficiency may reveal important new insights into the pathobiology of AS in humans.

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