A mouse model of the 15q13.3 microdeletion syndrome shows prefrontal neurophysiological dysfunctions and attentional impairment
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Rationale: A microdeletion at locus 15q13.3 is associated with high incidence rates of psychopathology, including schizophrenia. A mouse model of the 15q13.3 microdeletion syndrome has been generated (Df[h15q13]/+) with translational utility for modelling schizophrenia-like pathology. Among other deficits, schizophrenia is characterised by dysfunctions in prefrontal cortical (PFC) inhibitory circuitry and attention. Objectives: The objective of this study is to assess PFC-dependent functioning in the Df(h15q13)/+ mouse using electrophysiological, pharmacological, and behavioural assays. Method: Experiments 1–2 investigated baseline firing and auditory-evoked responses of PFC interneurons and pyramidal neurons. Experiment 3 measured pyramidal firing in response to intra-PFC GABAAreceptor antagonism. Experiments 4–6 assessed PFC-dependent attentional functioning through the touchscreen 5-choice serial reaction time task (5-CSRTT). Experiments 7–12 assessed reversal learning, paired-associate learning, extinction learning, progressive ratio, trial-unique non-match to sample, and object recognition. Results: In experiments 1–3, the Df(h15q13)/+ mouse showed reduced baseline firing rate of fast-spiking interneurons and in the ability of the GABAAreceptor antagonist gabazine to increase the firing rate of pyramidal neurons. In assays of auditory-evoked responses, PFC interneurons in the Df(h15q13)/+ mouse had reduced detection amplitudes and increased detection latencies, while pyramidal neurons showed increased detection latencies. In experiments 4–6, the Df(h15q13)/+ mouse showed a stimulus duration-dependent decrease in percent accuracy in the 5-CSRTT. The impairment was insensitive to treatment with the partial α7nAChR agonist EVP-6124. The Df(h15q13)/+ mouse showed no cognitive impairments in experiments 7–12. Conclusion: The Df(h15q13)/+ mouse has multiple dysfunctions converging on disrupted PFC processing as measured by several independent assays of inhibitory transmission and attentional function.