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Am J Med Genet. 1996 Aug 9;64(2):246-51.

Long-term potentiation in the hippocampus of fragile X knockout mice.

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Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Université Catholique de Louvain-la-Neuve, Woluwé, Brussels, Belgium.


To gain more insight in the physiological function of the fragile X gene (FMR1) and the mechanisms leading to fragile X syndrome, the Fmr1 gene has been inactivated in mice by gene targeting techniques. In the Morris water maze test, the Fmr1 knockout mice learn to find the hidden platform nearly as well as the control animals, but show impaired performance after the position of the platform has been modified. As malperformance in the Morris water maze test has been associated with impaired long-term potentiation (LTP), electrophysiological studies were performed in hippocampal slices of Fmr1 knockout mice to check for the presence of LTP. Judged by field extracellular excitatory postsynaptic potential recordings in the CA1 hippocampal area, Fmr1 knockout mice express LTP to a similar extent as their wild type littermates during the first 1-2 hr after high frequency stimulation. Also, short-term potentiation (STP) was similar in both types of mice. To investigate whether Fmr1 is involved in the latter stages of LTP as an immediate early gene, we compared Fmr1 mRNA quantities on northern blots after chemical induction of seizures. A transient increase in the transcription of immediate early genes is thought to be essential for the maintenance of LTP. As no increase in Fmr1 mRNA could be detected, neither in cortex nor in total brain, during the first 2 1/2 hr after pentylenetetrazol-induced seizures, it is unlikely that Fmr1 is an immediate early gene in mice. In conclusion, we found no evidence for a function of FMR1 in STP or LTP.

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