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The glutamate receptor 6 (GluR6 or GRIK2, one of the kainate receptors) gene resides in a genetic linkage region (6q21) associated with bipolar disorder (BPD), but its function in affective regulation is unknown. Compared with wild-type (WT) and GluR5 knockout (KO) mice, GluR6 KO mice were more active in multiple tests and super responsive to amphetamine. In a battery of specific tests, GluR6 KO mice also exhibited less anxious or more risk-taking type behavior and less despair-type manifestations, and they also had more aggressive displays. Chronic treatment with lithium, a classic antimanic mood stabilizer, reduced hyperactivity, aggressive displays and some risk-taking type behavior in GluR6 KO mice. Hippocampal and prefrontal cortical membrane levels of GluR5 and KA-2 receptors were decreased in GluR6 KO mice, and chronic lithium treatment did not affect these decreases. The membrane levels of other glutamatergic receptors were not significantly altered by GluR6 ablation or chronic lithium treatment. Together, these biochemical and behavioral results suggest a unique role for GluR6 in controlling abnormalities related to the behavioral symptoms of mania, such as hyperactivity or psychomotor agitation, aggressiveness, driven or increased goal-directed pursuits, risk taking and supersensitivity to psychostimulants. Whether GluR6 perturbation is involved in the mood elevation or thought disturbance of mania and the cyclicity of BPD are unknown. The molecular mechanism underlying the behavioral effects of lithium in GluR6 KO mice remains to be elucidated.