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Paper Chase

Activity-dependent dysfunction in visual and olfactory sensory systems in mouse models of Down syndrome.

J. Neurosci.. Sep 12, 2017.
William CM, Saqran L, Stern MA, Chiang CL, Herrick S, Rangwala A, Albers MW, Frosch MP, Hyman BT.

MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease, Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, 114 16 St., Charlestown, MA 02129.


Activity-dependent synaptic plasticity plays a critical role in the refinement of circuitry during postnatal development and may be disrupted in conditions that cause intellectual disability such as Down syndrome (DS). To test this hypothesis, visual cortical plasticity was assessed in Ts65Dn mice that harbor a chromosomal duplication syntenic to human chromosome 21q. We find that Ts65Dn mice demonstrate a defect in ocular dominance plasticity (ODP) following monocular deprivation. This phenotype is similar to that of transgenic mice that express amyloid precursor protein (APP), which is duplicated in DS and in Ts65DN mice; however, normalizing APP gene copy number in Ts65Dn mice fails to rescue plasticity. Ts1Rhr mice harbor a duplication of the telomeric third of the Ts65Dn-duplicated sequence and demonstrate the same ODP defect, suggesting a gene or genes sufficient to drive the phenotype are located in that smaller duplication. In addition, we find that Ts65Dn mice demonstrate an abnormality in olfactory system connectivity, a defect in the refinement of connections to second-order neurons in the olfactory bulb. Ts1Rhr mice do not demonstrate a defect in glomerular refinement, suggesting that distinct genes or sets of genes underlie visual and olfactory system phenotypes. Importantly, these data suggest that developmental plasticity and connectivity are impaired in sensory systems in DS model mice, that such defects may contribute to functional impairment in DS, and that these phenotypes, present in male and female mice, provide novel means by which to examine the genetic and molecular bases for neurodevelopmental impairment in model mice in vivoSignificance Statement: Our understanding of the basis for intellectual impairment in Down syndrome is hindered by the large number of genes duplicated in Trisomy 21 and a lack of understanding of the effect of disease pathology on the function of neural circuits in vivo This work describes early postnatal developmental abnormalities in visual and olfactory sensory systems in Down syndrome model mice which provide insight into defects in the function of neural circuits in vivo and provide an approach to explore the genetic and molecular basis for impairment in the disease. In addition, these findings raise the possibility that basic dysfunction in primary sensory circuitry may illustrate mechanisms important for global learning and cognitive impairment in Down syndrome patients.