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Connexin30-deficient mice show increased emotionality and decreased rearing activity in the open-field along with neurochemical changes

Authors


: Dr J. P. Huston, as above.
E-mail: huston@uni-duesseldorf.de

Abstract

Gap-junction channels in the brain, formed by connexin (Cx) proteins with a distinct regional/cell-type distribution, allow intercellular electrical and metabolic communication. In astrocytes, mainly the connexins 43, 26 and 30 are expressed. In addition, connexin30 is expressed in ependymal and leptomeningeal cells, as well as in skin and cochlea. The functional implications of the astrocytic gap-junctional network are not well understood and evidence regarding their behavioural relevance is lacking. Thus, we have tested groups of Cx30−/−, Cx30+/−, and Cx30+/+ mice in the open-field, an object exploration task, in the graded anxiety test and on the rotarod. The Cx30−/− mice showed reduced exploratory activity in terms of rearings but not locomotion in the open-field and object exploration task. Furthermore, Cx30−/− mice exhibited anxiogenic behaviour as shown by higher open-field centre avoidance and corner preference. Graded anxiety test and rotarod performance was similar across groups. The Cx30−/− mice had elevated choline levels in the ventral striatum, possibly related to their aberrant behavioural phenotypes. The Cx30+/− mice had lower dopamine and metabolite levels in the amygdala and ventral striatum and lower hippocampal 5-hydroxyindole acid (5-HIAA) concentrations relative to Cx30+/+ mice. Furthermore, the Cx30+/− mice had lower acetylcholine concentrations in the ventral striatum and higher choline levels in the neostriatum, relative to Cx30+/+ mice. Our data suggest that the elimination of connexin30 can alter the reactivity to novel environments, pointing to the importance of gap-junctional signalling in behavioural processes.

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