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Horner A.E.,Synome Ltd. | Horner A.E.,University of Cambridge | Heath C.J.,University of Cambridge | Hvoslef-Eide M.,University of Cambridge | And 8 more authors.
Nature Protocols | Year: 2013

An increasingly popular method of assessing cognitive functions in rodents is the automated touchscreen platform, on which a number of different cognitive tests can be run in a manner very similar to touchscreen methods currently used to test human subjects. This methodology is low stress (using appetitive rather than aversive reinforcement), has high translational potential and lends itself to a high degree of standardization and throughput. Applications include the study of cognition in rodent models of psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases (e.g., Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia, Huntington's disease, frontotemporal dementia), as well as the characterization of the role of select brain regions, neurotransmitter systems and genes in rodents. This protocol describes how to perform four touchscreen assays of learning and memory: visual discrimination, object-location paired-associates learning, visuomotor conditional learning and autoshaping. It is accompanied by two further protocols (also published in this issue) that use the touchscreen platform to assess executive function, working memory and pattern separation. © 2013 Nature America, Inc. All rights reserved.

Mar A.C.,University of Cambridge | Horner A.E.,University of Cambridge | Horner A.E.,Synome Ltd. | Nilsson S.R.O.,University of Cambridge | And 6 more authors.
Nature Protocols | Year: 2013

This protocol details a subset of assays developed within the touchscreen platform to measure various aspects of executive function in rodents. Three main procedures are included: extinction, measuring the rate and extent of curtailing a response that was previously, but is no longer, associated with reward; reversal learning, measuring the rate and extent of switching a response toward a visual stimulus that was previously not, but has become, associated with reward (and away from a visual stimulus that was previously, but is no longer, rewarded); and the 5-choice serial reaction time (5-CSRT) task, gauging the ability to selectively detect and appropriately respond to briefly presented, spatially unpredictable visual stimuli. These protocols were designed to assess both complementary and overlapping constructs including selective and divided visual attention, inhibitory control, flexibility, impulsivity and compulsivity. The procedures comprise part of a wider touchscreen test battery assessing cognition in rodents with high potential for translation to human studies. © 2013 Nature America, Inc. All rights reserved.

Oomen C.A.,University of Cambridge | Hvoslef-Eide M.,University of Cambridge | Heath C.J.,University of Cambridge | Mar A.C.,University of Cambridge | And 4 more authors.
Nature Protocols | Year: 2013

The automated touchscreen operant chamber for rats and mice allows for the assessment of multiple cognitive domains within the same testing environment. This protocol presents the location discrimination (LD) task and the trial-unique delayed nonmatching-to-location (TUNL) task, which both assess memory for location. During these tasks, animals are trained to a predefined criterion during ∼20-40 daily sessions. In LD sessions, touching the same location on the screen is rewarded on consecutive trials, followed by a reversal of location-reward contingencies. TUNL, a working memory task, requires animals to 'nonmatch' to a sample location after a delay. In both the LD and TUNL tasks, spatial similarity can be varied, allowing assessment of pattern separation ability, a function that is thought to be performed by the dentate gyrus (DG). These tasks are therefore particularly useful in animal models of hippocampal, and specifically DG, function, but they additionally permit discernment of changes in pattern separation from those in working memory. © 2013 Nature America, Inc. All rights reserved.

Arbogast T.,Institute Of Genetique Et Of Biologie Moleculaire Et Cellulaire | Arbogast T.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Arbogast T.,French Institute of Health and Medical Research | Arbogast T.,University of Strasbourg | And 26 more authors.
PLoS Genetics | Year: 2016

The 16p11.2 600 kb BP4-BP5 deletion and duplication syndromes have been associated with developmental delay; autism spectrum disorders; and reciprocal effects on the body mass index, head circumference and brain volumes. Here, we explored these relationships using novel engineered mouse models carrying a deletion (Del/+) or a duplication (Dup/+) of the Sult1a1-Spn region homologous to the human 16p11.2 BP4-BP5 locus. On a C57BL/6N inbred genetic background, Del/+ mice exhibited reduced weight and impaired adipogenesis, hyperactivity, repetitive behaviors, and recognition memory deficits. In contrast, Dup/+ mice showed largely opposite phenotypes. On a F1 C57BL/6N × C3B hybrid genetic background, we also observed alterations in social interaction in the Del/+ and the Dup/+ animals, with other robust phenotypes affecting recognition memory and weight. To explore the dosage effect of the 16p11.2 genes on metabolism, Del/+ and Dup/+ models were challenged with high fat and high sugar diet, which revealed opposite energy imbalance. Transcriptomic analysis revealed that the majority of the genes located in the Sult1a1-Spn region were sensitive to dosage with a major effect on several pathways associated with neurocognitive and metabolic phenotypes. Whereas the behavioral consequence of the 16p11 region genetic dosage was similar in mice and humans with activity and memory alterations, the metabolic defects were opposite: adult Del/+ mice are lean in comparison to the human obese phenotype and the Dup/+ mice are overweight in comparison to the human underweight phenotype. Together, these data indicate that the dosage imbalance at the 16p11.2 locus perturbs the expression of modifiers outside the CNV that can modulate the penetrance, expressivity and direction of effects in both humans and mice. © 2016 Arbogast et al.

Balemans M.C.M.,Radboud University Nijmegen | Nadif kasri N.,Radboud University Nijmegen | Kopanitsa M.V.,Synome Ltd. | Afinowi N.O.,Synome Ltd. | And 13 more authors.
Human Molecular Genetics | Year: 2013

Euchromatin histone methyltransferase 1 (EHMT1) is a highly conserved protein that catalyzes mono- and dimethylation of histone H3 lysine 9, thereby epigenetically regulating transcription. Kleefstra syndrome (KS), is caused by haploinsufficiency of the EHMT1 gene, and is an example of an emerging group of intellectual disability (ID) disorders caused by genes encoding epigenetic regulators of neuronal gene activity. Little is known about the mechanisms underlying this disorder, prompting us to study the Euchromatin histone methyltransferase 1 heterozygous knockout (Ehmt1+/-) mice as a model for KS. In agreement with the cognitive disturbances observed in patients with KS, we detected deficits in fear extinction learning and both novel and spatial object recognition in Ehmt1+/- mice. These learning and memory deficits were associated with a significant reduction in dendritic arborization and the number of mature spines in hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons of Ehmt1+/- mice. In-depth analysis of the electrophysiological properties of CA3-CA1 synapses revealed no differences in basal synaptic transmission or theta-burst induced long-term potentiation (LTP). However, paired-pulse facilitation (PPF) was significantly increased in Ehmt1+/- neurons, pointing to a potential deficiency in presynaptic neurotransmitter release. Accordingly, a reduction in the frequency of miniature excitatory post-synaptic currents (mEPSCs) was observed in Ehmt1+/- neurons. These data demonstrate that Ehmt1 haploinsufficiency in mice leads to learning deficits and synaptic dysfunction, providing a possible mechanism for the ID phenotype in patients with KS. © The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.

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