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Plos One

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Proteins -- Metabolism, Proteomics, Molecular biology, Mitosis


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder in which children display repetitive behavior, restricted range of interests, and atypical social interaction and communication. CUL3, coding for a Cullin family scaffold protein mediating assembly of ubiquitin ligase complexes through BTB domain substrate-recruiting adaptors, has been identified as a high-risk gene for autism. Although complete knockout of Cul3 results in embryonic lethality, Cul3 heterozygous mice have reduced CUL3 protein, demonstrate comparable body weight, and display minimal behavioral differences including decreased spatial object recognition memory. In measures of reciprocal social interaction, Cul3 heterozygous mice behaved similarly to their wild-type littermates. In area CA1 of hippocampus, reduction of Cul3 significantly increased mEPSC frequency but not amplitude nor baseline evoked synaptic transmission or paired-pulse ratio. Sholl and spine analysis data suggest there is a small yet significant difference in CA1 pyramidal neuron dendritic branching and stubby spine density. Unbiased proteomic analysis of Cul3 heterozygous brain tissue revealed dysregulation of various cytoskeletal organization proteins, among others. Overall, our results suggest that Cul3 heterozygous deletion impairs spatial object recognition memory, alters cytoskeletal organization proteins, but does not cause major hippocampal neuronal morphology, functional, or behavioral abnormalities in adult global Cul3 heterozygous mice.


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