Mice Mutated in the Third Fibronectin Domain of L1 Show Enhanced Hippocampal Neuronal Cell Death, Astrogliosis and Alterations in Behavior
Adhesion molecules play major roles in cell proliferation, migration, survival, neurite outgrowth and synapse formation during nervous system development and in adulthood. The neural cell adhesion molecule L1 contributes to these functions during development and in synapse formation and synaptic plasticity after trauma in adulthood. Mutations of L1 in humans result in L1 syndrome, which is associated with mild-to-severe brain malformations and mental disabilities. Furthermore, mutations in the extracellular domain were shown to cause a severe phenotype more often than mutations in the intracellular domain. To explore the outcome of a mutation in the extracellular domain, we generated mice with disruption of the dibasic sequences RK and KR that localize to position 858 RKHSKR 863 in the third fibronectin type III domain of murine L1. These mice exhibit alterations in exploratory behavior and enhanced marble burying activity. Mutant mice display higher numbers of caspase 3-positive neurons, a reduced number of principle neurons in the hippocampus, and an enhanced number of glial cells. Experiments suggest that disruption of the dibasic sequence in L1 results in subtle impairments in brain structure and functions leading to obsessive-like behavior in males and reduced anxiety in females.