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Title: Investigation of social olfaction in a Neuroligin 3 Knockout mouse model
Author: Cross, Ellen
ISNI:       0000 0004 7968 693X
Awarding Body: Cardiff University
Current Institution: Cardiff University
Date of Award: 2019
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Mouse models contribute a lot to our understanding of human illness by allowing assessment of the effect of both genes and environment which can be used to answer important questions. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that does not have one single cause but can be due to a number of different causes. This ranges from single gene de novo mutations to an accumulation of mutations and with the addition of environmental effects ASD is a challenging disorder to understand. One of the genes associated with ASD is the NLGN3, an X-linked gene which encodes the protein Neuroligin 3. Neuroligin 3 forms a cell adhesion molecule found in the synapses of neurons and its main function is maintaining the stability of synapses. Neuroligin 3 knockout (Nlgn3y/-) mice have been studied for behavioural modifications and it was identified that Nlgn3y/- mice have a deficit in social memory. One of the main symptoms of ASD is deficits in social communication so this phenotype is worth exploring. As social odour production and detection is an important factor in social communication in mice we decided to pursue the social memory deficit of Nlgn3y/- mice in this context. I identified reduced interest for social cues and altered discrimination behaviour in Nlgn3y/- mice. Also an environmental effect where the genetics of the mice in a home environment also affect reactions to social cues. Both Neuroligin 3 knockout and housing affected cFos signal in discrete brain regions in response to a particular scent cue known as major urinary protein 20 (MUP20), particularly in the dentate gyrus. Neuroligin-3 was identified in the Vomeronasal organ (VNO), which is an olfactory tissue, however the role that this protein plays in VNO function has yet to be identified. These findings suggests that NLGN3 is a gene of importance to the social behaviour of mice and could contribute to social memory phenotypes identified in Nlgn3y/- mice.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Q Science (General)