Social cognition is an endophenotype that is impaired in schizophrenia and several other (comorbid) psychiatric disorders. One of the modulators of social cognition is dopamine, but its role is not clear. The effects of dopamine are mediated through dopamine receptors, including the dopamine D1 receptor (Drd1). Because today's Drd1 receptor agonists are not Drd1 selective, pharmacological tools are not sufficient to delineate the role of the Drd1. We describe a novel rat model with a genetic mutation in the Drd1, in which we measured basic behavioural phenotypes and social cognition. The I116S mutation was predicted to render the receptor less stable. In line with this computational prediction, the Drd1 mutation led to a decreased transmembrane insertion of Drd1, while Drd1 expression, as measured by Drd1 mRNA levels, remained unaffected. Due to decreased transmembrane Drd1 insertion, the mutant rats displayed normal basic motoric and neurological parameters, as well as locomotor activity and anxiety-like behaviour. However, measures of social cognition like social interaction, scent marking, pup ultrasonic vocalizations and sociability, were strongly reduced in the mutant rats. This profile of the Drd1 mutant rat offers the field of neuroscience a novel genetic rat model to study a series of psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia, autism, depression, bipolar disorder and drug addiction.
- Received February 1, 2016.
- Accepted May 4, 2016.
- © 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd
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