Deletion of the miR-379/miR-410 gene cluster at the imprinted Dlk1-Dio3 locus enhances anxiety-related behaviour

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The brain-specific miR-379/miR-410 gene cluster at the imprinted Dlk1-Dio3 domain is implicated in several aspects of brain development and function, particularly in fine-tuning the dendritic outgrowth and spine remodelling of hippocampal neurons. Whether it might influence behaviour and memory-related processes has not yet been explored at the whole organism level. We previously reported that constitutive deletion of the miR-379/miR-410 gene cluster affects metabolic adaptation in neonatal mice. Here, we examined the role of this cluster in adult brain functions by subjecting mice with the constitutive deletion to a battery of behavioural and cognitive tests. We found that the lack of miR-379/miR-410 expression is associated with abnormal emotional responses, as demonstrated by increased anxiety-related behaviour in unfamiliar environments. In contrast, spontaneous exploration, general locomotion, mood levels and sociability remained unaltered. Surprisingly, miR-379/miR-410-deficient mice also showed normal learning and spatial (or contextual) memory abilities in hippocampus-dependent tasks involving neuronal plasticity. Taken together, the imprinted miR-379/miR-410 gene cluster thus emerges as a novel regulator of the two main post-natal physiological processes previously associated with imprinted, protein-coding genes: behaviour and energy homeostasis.

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