Sociocommunicative and sensorimotor impairments in male P2X4-deficient mice

Letisha R. Wyatt, Sean C. Godar, Sheraz Khoja, Michael W. Jakowec, Ronald L. Alkana, Marco Bortolato, Daryl L. Davies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Purinergic P2X receptors are a family of ligand-gated ion channels gated by extracellular adenosine 5′-triphosphate (ATP). Of the seven P2X subtypes, P2X4 receptors (P2X4Rs) are richly expressed in the brain, yet their role in behavioral organization remains poorly understood. In this study, we examined the behavioral responses of P2X4R heterozygous (HZ) and knockout (KO) mice in a variety of testing paradigms designed to assess complementary aspects of sensory functions, emotional reactivity, and cognitive organization. P2X4R deficiency did not induce significant alterations of locomotor activity and anxiety-related indices in the novel open field and elevated plus-maze tests. Conversely, P2X4R KO mice displayed marked deficits in acoustic startle reflex amplitude, as well as significant sensorimotor gating impairments, as assessed by the prepulse inhibition of the startle. In addition, P2X4R KO mice displayed enhanced tactile sensitivity, as signified by a lower latency in the sticky-tape removal test. Moreover, both P2X4R HZ and KO mice showed significant reductions in social interaction and maternal separation-induced ultrasonic vocalizations in pups. Notably, brain regions of P2X4R KO mice exhibited significant brain-regional alterations in the subunit composition of glutamate ionotropic receptors. These results collectively document that P2X4-deficient mice exhibit a spectrum of phenotypic abnormalities partially akin to those observed in other murine models of autism-spectrum disorder. In conclusion, our findings highlight a putative role of P2X4Rs in the regulation of perceptual and sociocommunicative functions and point to these receptors as putative targets for disturbances associated with neurodevelopmental disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1993-2002
Number of pages10
Issue number10
StatePublished - Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • anxiety
  • knockout
  • purinergic receptors
  • sociocommunicative deficits
  • startle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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