Cacna1c haploinsufficiency leads to pro-social 50-kHz ultrasonic communication deficits in rats

The cross-disorder risk gene CACNA1C is strongly implicated in multiple neuropsychiatric disorders, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD), bipolar disorder (BPD) and schizophrenia (SCZ), with deficits in social functioning being common for all major neuropsychiatric disorders. In the present study, we explored the role of Cacna1c in regulating disorder-relevant behavioral phenotypes, focusing on socio-affective communication after weaning during the critical developmental period of adolescence in rats. To this aim, we used a newly developed genetic Cacna1c ratmodel and applied a truly reciprocal approach for studying communication through ultrasonic vocalizations, including both sender and receiver. Our results showthat a deletionof Cacna1c leads to deficits in social behavior and pro-social 50-kHz ultrasonic communication in rats. Reduced levels of 50-kHz ultrasonic vocalizations emitted during rough-and-tumble play may suggest that Cacna1c haploinsufficient rats derive less reward from playful social interactions. Besides the emission of fewer 50-kHz ultrasonic vocalizations in the sender, Cacna1c deletion reduced social approach behavior elicited by playback of 50-kHz ultrasonic vocalizations. This indicates that Cacna1c haploinsufficiency has detrimental effects on 50-kHz ultrasonic communication in both sender and receiver. Together, these data suggest that Cacna1c plays a prominent role in regulating socio-affective communication in rats with relevance for ASD, BPD and SCZ. © 2018. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd | Disease Models & Mechanisms.

The cross-disorder risk gene CACNA1C is strongly implicated in multiple neuropsychiatric disorders, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD), bipolar disorder (BPD) and schizophrenia (SCZ), with deficits in social functioning being common for all major neuropsychiatric disorders. In the present study, we explored the role of Cacna1c in regulating disorder-relevant behavioral phenotypes, focusing on socio-affective communication after weaning during the critical developmental period of adolescence in rats. To this aim, we used a newly developed genetic Cacna1c ratmodel and applied a truly reciprocal approach for studying communication through ultrasonic vocalizations, including both sender and receiver. Our results showthat a deletionof Cacna1c leads to deficits in social behavior and pro-social 50-kHz ultrasonic communication in rats. Reduced levels of 50-kHz ultrasonic vocalizations emitted during rough-and-tumble play may suggest that Cacna1c haploinsufficient rats derive less reward from playful social interactions. Besides the emission of fewer 50-kHz ultrasonic vocalizations in the sender, Cacna1c deletion reduced social approach behavior elicited by playback of 50-kHz ultrasonic vocalizations. This indicates that Cacna1c haploinsufficiency has detrimental effects on 50-kHz ultrasonic communication in both sender and receiver. Together, these data suggest that Cacna1c plays a prominent role in regulating socio-affective communication in rats with relevance for ASD, BPD and SCZ. © 2018. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd | Disease Models & Mechanisms.

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