Comprehensive Motor Testing in Fmr1-KO Mice Exposes Temporal Defects in Oromotor Coordination


Fragile X syndrome (FXS; MIM #300624), a well-recognized form of inherited human mental retardation is caused, in most cases, by a CGG trinucleotide repeat expansion in the 5'-untranslated region of FMR1, resulting in reduced expression of the fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP). Clinical features include macroorchidism, anxiety, mental retardation, motor coordination, and speech articulation deficits. The Fmr1 knockout (Fmr1-KO) mouse, a mouse model for FXS, has been shown to replicate the macroorchidism, cognitive deficits, and neuroanatomical abnormalities found in human FXS. Here we asked whether Fmr1-KO mice also display appendicular and oromotor deficits comparable to the ataxia and dysarthric speech seen in FXS patients. We employed standard motor tests for balance and appendicular motor coordination, and used a novel long-term fluid-licking assay to investigate oromotor function in Fmr1-KO mice and their wild-type (WT) littermates. Fmr1-KO mice performed equally well as their WT littermates on standard motor tests, with the exception of a raised-beam task. However, Fmr1-KO mice had a significantly slower licking rhythm than their WT littermates. Deficits in rhythmic fluid-licking in Fmr1-KO mice have been linked to cerebellar pathologies. It is believed that balance and motor coordination deficits in FXS patients are caused by cerebellar neurophathologies. The neuronal bases of speech articulation deficits in FXS patients are currently unknown. It is yet to be established whether similar neuronal circuits control rhythmic fluid-licking pattern in mice and speech articulation movement in humans. © 2011 American Psychological Association.

Publication Title

Behavioral Neuroscience