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Keywords:

  • hypotonia;
  • Joubert syndrome;
  • optokinetic response;
  • vestibulo-ocular reflex;
  • Zic family

Abstract

We examined the adult neural phenotypes of the Bent tail mutant mouse. The Bent tail mutant mouse was recently shown to lack a submicroscopic part of the X chromosome containing the Zic3 gene, which encodes a zinc-finger protein controlling vertebrate neural development. While nearly one-fourth of hemizygous Bent tail (Bn/Y, Zic3-deficient) mice developed neural tube defects in their midbrain and hindbrain region, the other Bn/Y mice showed apparently normal behaviour in a C57BL/6 genetic background. A battery of behavioural and eye movement tests revealed impaired spontaneous locomotor activity, reduction of muscle tone and impairments of vestibuloocular and optokinetic eye movements in these mice. Morphological examination of the mutant brain showed a significant reduction in the cell numbers in the cerebellar anterior lobe and paraflocculus–flocculus complex. Our results indicate that the cerebellar dysgenesis characterized by subregional hypoplasia affects the locomotor activity, muscle tone and eye movement control of the mice. These findings may have some clinical implications in relation to disorders characterized by cerebellar dysgenesis, such as Joubert syndrome.