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Aberrant responses to acoustic stimuli in mice deficient for neural recognition molecule NB-2


: Dr K. Watanabe, 5Department of BioEngineering, as above.


NB-2, a member of the contactin subgroup in the immunoglobulin superfamily, is expressed specifically in the postnatal nervous system, reaching a maximum level at 3 weeks postnatal. NB-2 displays neurite outgrowth-promoting activity in vitro. To assess its function in the nervous system, we generated mutant mice in which a part of the NB-2 gene was ablated and replaced with the tau-LacZ gene. The general appearance of NB-2-deficient mice and their gross anatomical features were normal. The LacZ expression patterns in heterozygous mice revealed that NB-2 is preferentially expressed in the central auditory pathways. In the audiogenic seizure test, NB-2-deficient mice exhibited a lower incidence of wild running, but a higher mortality rate than the wild-type littermates. c-Fos immunohistochemistry demonstrated that neural excitability induced by the audiogenic seizure test in the NB-2-deficient mice was prominently attenuated in both the dorsal and external cortices of the inferior colliculus, where enhanced neural excitability was observed in the wild-type mice. In response to pure-tone stimulation after priming, NB-2-deficient mice exhibited a diffuse and low level of c-Fos expression in the central nucleus of the inferior colliculus, which was distinctly different from the band-like c-Fos expression corresponding to the tonotopic map in the wild-type littermates. Taken together, these results suggest that a lack of NB-2 causes impairment of the neuronal activity in the auditory system.