Limited impact of Cntn4 mutation on autism-related traits in developing and adult C57BL/6J mice

Remco T. Molenhuis, Hilgo Bruining, Esther Remmelink, Leonie De Visser, Maarten Loos, J. Peter H. Burbach, Martien J.H. Kas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Mouse models offer an essential tool to unravel the impact of genetic mutations on autism-related phenotypes. The behavioral impact of some important candidate gene models for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has not yet been studied, and existing characterizations mostly describe behavioral phenotypes at adult ages, disregarding the developmental nature of the disorder. In this context, the behavioral influence of CNTN4, one of the strongest suggested ASD candidate genes, is unknown. Here, we used our recently established developmental test battery to characterize the consequences of disruption of contactin 4 (Cntn4) on neurological, sensory, cognitive, and behavioral phenotypes across different developmental stages. Methods: C57BL/6J mice with heterozygous and homozygous disruption of Cntn4 were studied through an extensive, partially longitudinal, test battery at various developmental stages, including various paradigms testing social and restricted repetitive behaviors. Results: Developmental neurological and cognitive screenings revealed no significant differences between genotypes, and ASD-related behavioral domains were also unchanged in Cntn4-deficient versus wild-type mice. The impact of Cntn4-deficiency was found to be limited to increased startle responsiveness following auditory stimuli of different high amplitudes in heterozygous and homozygous Cntn4-deficient mice and enhanced acquisition in a spatial learning task in homozygous mice. Conclusions: Disruption of Cntn4 in the C57BL/6J background does not affect specific autism-related phenotypes in developing or adult mice but causes subtle non-disorder specific changes in sensory behavioral responses and cognitive performance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6
JournalJournal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes

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