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Behav Brain Res. 2013 Aug 15;251:50-64. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2012.07.024. Epub 2012 Jul 20.

Developmental delays and reduced pup ultrasonic vocalizations but normal sociability in mice lacking the postsynaptic cell adhesion protein neuroligin2.

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Laboratory of Behavioral Neuroscience, Intramural Research Program, National Institute of Mental Health, NIH, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Mutations in neurexin and neuroligin genes have been associated with neurodevelopmental disabilities including autism. Autism spectrum disorder is diagnosed by aberrant reciprocal social interactions, deficits in social communication, and repetitive, stereotyped patterns of behaviors, along with narrow restricted interests. Mouse models have been successfully used to study physiological and behavioral outcomes of mutations in the trans-synaptic neurexin-neuroligin complex. To further understand the behavioral consequences of Neuroligin2 (NLGN2) mutations, we assessed several behavioral phenotypes relevant to autism in neuroligin2 null (Nlgn2(-/-)), heterozygote (Nlgn2(+/-)), and wildtype (Nlgn2(+/+)) littermate control mice. Reduced breeding efficiency and high reactivity to handling was observed in Nlgn2(-/-) mice, resulting in low numbers of adult mice available for behavioral assessment. Consistent with previous findings, Nlgn2(-/-) mice displayed normal social behaviors, concomitant with reduced exploratory activity, impaired rotarod performance, and delays on several developmental milestones. No spontaneous stereotypies or repetitive behaviors were detected. Acoustic, tactile, and olfactory sensory information processing as well as sensorimotor gating were not affected. Nlgn2(-/-) pups isolated from mother and littermates emitted fewer ultrasonic vocalizations and spent less time calling than Nlgn2(+/+) littermate controls. The present findings add to the growing literature on the role of neurexins and neuroligins in physiology and behavior relevant to neurodevelopmental disorders.


Anxiety; Autism; Communication; GABA; Inhibition; Neuroligin; Schizophrenia; Social behavior; Ultrasonic vocalization

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