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PLoS One. 2017 Sep 20;12(9):e0185067. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0185067. eCollection 2017.

Excitability is increased in hippocampal CA1 pyramidal cells of Fmr1 knockout mice.

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Department of Physiology. University of Seville, Seville, Spain.


Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is caused by a failure of neuronal cells to express the gene encoding the fragile mental retardation protein (FMRP). Clinical features of the syndrome include intellectual disability, learning impairment, hyperactivity, seizures and anxiety. Fmr1 knockout (KO) mice do not express FMRP and, as a result, reproduce some FXS behavioral abnormalities. While intrinsic and synaptic properties of excitatory cells in various part of the brain have been studied in Fmr1 KO mice, a thorough analysis of action potential characteristics and input-output function of CA1 pyramidal cells in this model is lacking. With a view to determining the effects of the absence of FMRP on cell excitability, we studied rheobase, action potential duration, firing frequency-current intensity relationship and action potential after-hyperpolarization (AHP) in CA1 pyramidal cells of the hippocampus of wild type (WT) and Fmr1 KO male mice. Brain slices were prepared from 8- to 12-week-old mice and the electrophysiological properties of cells recorded. Cells from both groups had similar resting membrane potentials. In the absence of FMRP expression, cells had a significantly higher input resistance, while voltage threshold and depolarization voltage were similar in WT and Fmr1 KO cell groups. No changes were observed in rheobase. The action potential duration was longer in the Fmr1 KO cell group, and the action potential firing frequency evoked by current steps of the same intensity was higher. Moreover, the gain (slope) of the relationship between firing frequency and injected current was 1.25-fold higher in the Fmr1 KO cell group. Finally, AHP amplitude was significantly reduced in the Fmr1 KO cell group. According to these data, FMRP absence increases excitability in hippocampal CA1 pyramidal cells.

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