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Purinergic Signal. 2013 Jun;9(2):175-82. doi: 10.1007/s11302-012-9344-1. Epub 2012 Dec 29.

Superior working memory and behavioural habituation but diminished psychomotor coordination in mice lacking the ecto-5'-nucleotidase (CD73) gene.

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Institute of Experimental Psychology, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany.


Adenosine is an important neuromodulator in the central nervous system involved in the regulation of wakefulness, sleep, learning and memory, fear and anxiety as well as motor functions. Extracellular adenosine is synthesized by the cell-surface ectoenzyme ecto-5'-nucleotidase (CD73) from 5'-adenosine monophosphate. While CD73 is widely expressed throughout the mammalian brain, its specific role for behaviour is poorly understood. We examined spatial working memory, emotional responses, motor coordination and motor learning as well as behavioural habituation in mice with a targeted deletion of CD73. CD73 knockout (CD73-/-) mice exhibit enhanced spatial working memory in the Y-maze and enhanced long-term behavioural habituation in the open field. Furthermore, impaired psychomotor coordination on the accelerating rotarod was found in CD73-/- mice. No changes in motor learning and/or anxiety-like behaviour were evident in CD73-/- mice. Our data provide evidence for a role of CD73 in the regulation of learning and memory and psychomotor coordination. Our results might be important for the evaluation of adenosine neuromodulators as possible treatments to ameliorate cognitive and motor deficits associated with neurodegenerative diseases.

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