Altered expression of synaptic protein mRNAs in STOP (MAP6) mutant mice
AbstractStable tubule-only polypeptide (STOP) proteins are a family of microtubule associated proteins (MAPs) important in microtubule stabilization. Data indicating a role for microtubules in synaptic function has come from studies of the STOP null mouse, which exhibits synaptic deficits, in association with behavioural changes that are alleviated by antipsychotic treatment. These findings suggested that STOP mutant mice may be useful in studies of synaptic function, and could be especially relevant to schizophrenia, postulated to be a disorder of the synapse. Moreover, a genetic association between STOP and schizophrenia has been reported. This study aimed to further characterize synaptic alterations in STOP null and heterozygous mice. Using in situ hybridization histochemistry, the mRNA expression of three pre-synaptic (synaptophysin; growth associated protein-43 (GAP-43); vesicular glutamate transporter-1 (VGlut1)) and two post-synaptic (spinophilin; MAP2) proteins, was quantified in female STOP null ( n = 7), heterozygous ( n = 5) and wild type ( n = 6) mice. For STOP null and heterozygous mice, synaptophysin, VGlut1, GAP-43 and spinophilin mRNAs were decreased in the hippocampus, whilst in addition in the null mice, synaptophysin, VGlut1 and spinophilin mRNAs were decreased in the cerebellum. Alterations in synaptic protein mRNA expression were also detected in the frontal and occipital cortex. MAP2 mRNA expression was unchanged in all brain regions. The profile of mRNA changes is broadly similar to that observed in schizophrenia. Together the data provide supporting evidence for a role for microtubules in synaptic function, and suggest that STOP, or other microtubule proteins, may contribute to the synaptic pathology of schizophrenia.