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A new genetic model in rats may throw light on the role of dopamine receptors in social cognition.
Social cognition is impaired in schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders including depression. This activity is modulated largely through dopamine acting on dopamine D1 receptors (D1R). A new genetic mutation in rats, I116S, leads to decreased transmembrane insertion of D1R, whereas receptor expression, as measured by mRNA levels, remained unaltered. As a result of the decreased transmembrane D1R insertion, the mutant rats showed normal basic locomotor activity and anxiety-like behaviour but strongly decreased social cognition, as measured by social interaction, scent marking, pup ultrasonic vocalizations and sociability. This profile of the D1R mutant rat should prove to be a valuable tool in the study of the role of dopamine receptors in many psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia, autism, depression, bipolar disorder and drug addiction.

Homberg JR, Olivier JD, VandenBroeke M, Youn J, Ellenbroek AK, Karel P, Shan L, van Boxtel R, Ooms S, Balemans M, Langedijk J, Muller M, Vriend G, Cools AR, Cuppen E, Ellenbroek BA. The role of the dopamine D1 receptor in social cognition: studies using a novel genetic rat model. Dis Model Mech. 2016;9:1147-1158
Updated December 2016

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