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Sci Rep. 2016 Apr 12;6:24250. doi: 10.1038/srep24250.

CALHM1 deficiency impairs cerebral neuron activity and memory flexibility in mice.

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Litwin-Zucker Research Center for the Study of Alzheimer's Disease, The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, Manhasset, NY 11030, USA.
Laboratory of Immune &Neural Networks, The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, Manhasset, NY 11030, USA.
Monell Chemical Senses Center, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
Department of Molecular Medicine, Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine, Manhasset, NY 11030, USA.


CALHM1 is a cell surface calcium channel expressed in cerebral neurons. CALHM1 function in the brain remains unknown, but recent results showed that neuronal CALHM1 controls intracellular calcium signaling and cell excitability, two mechanisms required for synaptic function. Here, we describe the generation of Calhm1 knockout (Calhm1(-/-)) mice and investigate CALHM1 role in neuronal and cognitive functions. Structural analysis revealed that Calhm1(-/-) brains had normal regional and cellular architecture, and showed no evidence of neuronal or synaptic loss, indicating that CALHM1 deficiency does not affect brain development or brain integrity in adulthood. However, Calhm1(-/-) mice showed a severe impairment in memory flexibility, assessed in the Morris water maze, and a significant disruption of long-term potentiation without alteration of long-term depression, measured in ex vivo hippocampal slices. Importantly, in primary neurons and hippocampal slices, CALHM1 activation facilitated the phosphorylation of NMDA and AMPA receptors by protein kinase A. Furthermore, neuronal CALHM1 activation potentiated the effect of glutamate on the expression of c-Fos and C/EBPβ, two immediate-early gene markers of neuronal activity. Thus, CALHM1 controls synaptic activity in cerebral neurons and is required for the flexible processing of memory in mice. These results shed light on CALHM1 physiology in the mammalian brain.

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