Behavioral abnormalities and circuit defects in the basal ganglia of a mouse model of 16p11.2 deletion syndrome.
Portmann T., Yang M., Mao R., Panagiotakos G., Ellegood J., Dolen G., Bader PL., Grueter BA., Goold C., Fisher E., Clifford K., Rengarajan P., Kalikhman D., Loureiro D., Saw NL., Zhengqui Z., Miller MA., Lerch JP., Henkelman M., Shamloo M., Malenka RC., Crawley JN., Dolmetsch RE.
A deletion on human chromosome 16p11.2 is associated with autism spectrum disorders. We deleted the syntenic region on mouse chromosome 7F3. MRI and high-throughput single-cell transcriptomics revealed anatomical and cellular abnormalities, particularly in cortex and striatum of juvenile mutant mice (16p11(+/-)). We found elevated numbers of striatal medium spiny neurons (MSNs) expressing the dopamine D2 receptor (Drd2(+)) and fewer dopamine-sensitive (Drd1(+)) neurons in deep layers of cortex. Electrophysiological recordings of Drd2(+) MSN revealed synaptic defects, suggesting abnormal basal ganglia circuitry function in 16p11(+/-) mice. This is further supported by behavioral experiments showing hyperactivity, circling, and deficits in movement control. Strikingly, 16p11(+/-) mice showed a complete lack of habituation reminiscent of what is observed in some autistic individuals. Our findings unveil a fundamental role of genes affected by the 16p11.2 deletion in establishing the basal ganglia circuitry and provide insights in the pathophysiology of autism.