Haploinsufficiency of EHMT1 improves pattern separation and increases hippocampal cell proliferation

Marco Benevento, Charlotte A. Oomen, Alexa E. Horner, Houshang Amiri, Tessa Jacobs, Charlotte Pauwels, Monica Frega, Tjitske Kleefstra, Maksym V. Kopanitsa, Seth Grant, Timothy J Bussey, Lisa M Saksida, Catharina E.E.M. Van der Zee, Hans van Bokhoven, Jeffrey C. Glennon, Nael Nadif Kasri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Heterozygous mutations or deletions of the human Euchromatin Histone Methyltransferase 1 (EHMT1) gene are the main causes of Kleefstra syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterized by impaired memory, autistic features and mostly severe intellectual disability. Previously, Ehmt1+/− heterozygous knockout mice were found to exhibit cranial abnormalities and decreased sociability, phenotypes similar to those observed in Kleefstra syndrome patients. In addition, Ehmt1+/− knockout mice were impaired at fear extinction and novel- and spatial object recognition. In this study, Ehmt1+/− and wild-type mice were tested on several cognitive tests in a touchscreen-equipped operant chamber to further investigate the nature of learning and memory changes. Performance of Ehmt1+/− mice in the Visual Discrimination & Reversal learning, object-location Paired-Associates learning- and Extinction learning tasks was found to be unimpaired. Remarkably, Ehmt1+/− mice showed enhanced performance on the Location Discrimination test of pattern separation. In line with improved Location Discrimination ability, an increase in BrdU-labelled cells in the subgranular zone of the dentate gyrus was observed. In conclusion, reduced levels of EHMT1 protein in Ehmt1+/− mice does not result in general learning deficits in a touchscreen-based battery, but leads to increased adult cell proliferation in the hippocampus and enhanced pattern separation ability.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScientific Reports
Early online date10 Jan 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Jan 2017


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