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Lack of Sez6 Family Proteins Impairs Motor Functions, Short-Term Memory, and Cognitive Flexibility and Alters Dendritic Spine Properties.

Cereb Cortex. 2019 Nov 11. pii: bhz230. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhz230. [Epub ahead of print]

Authors/Editors: Nash A, Aumann TD, Pigoni M, Lichtenthaler SF, Takeshima H, Munro KM, Gunnersen JM.
Publication Date: 2019



Seizure-related gene 6 (Sez6), Sez6-Like (Sez6L), and Sez6-Like 2 (Sez6L2) comprise a family of homologous proteins widely expressed throughout the brain that have been linked to neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders. Here, we use Sez6 triple knockout (TKO) mice, which lack all three Sez6 family proteins, to demonstrate that Sez6 family proteins regulate dendritic spine structure and cognitive functions, motor learning, and maintenance of motor functions across the lifespan. Compared to WT controls, we found that Sez6 TKO mice had impaired motor learning and their motor coordination was negatively affected from 6 weeks old and declined more rapidly as they aged. Sez6 TKO mice had reduced spine density in the hippocampus and dendritic spines were shifted to more immature morphologies in the somatosensory cortex. Cognitive testing revealed that they had enhanced stress responsiveness, impaired working, and spatial short-term memory but intact spatial long-term memory in the Morris water maze albeit accompanied by a reversal deficit. Our study demonstrates that the lack of Sez6 family proteins results in phenotypes commonly associated with neuropsychiatric disorders making it likely that Sez6 family proteins contribute to the complex etiologies of these disorders.

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