Reduced expression of glutamate decarboxylase 67 (GAD67), encoded by the Gad1 gene, is a consistent finding in postmortem brains of patients with several psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder. The dysfunction of GAD67 in the brain is implicated in the pathophysiology of these psychiatric disorders; however, the neurobiological consequences of GAD67 dysfunction in mature brains are not fully understood because the homozygous Gad1 knockout is lethal in newborn mice. We hypothesized that the tetracycline-controlled gene expression/suppression system could be applied to develop global GAD67 knockdown mice that would survive into adulthood. In addition, GAD67 knockdown mice would provide new insights into the neurobiological impact of GAD67 dysfunction. Here, we developed Gad1tTA/STOP−tetO biallelic knock-in mice using Gad1STOP−tetO and Gad1tTA knock-in mice, and compared them with Gad1+/+ mice. The expression level of GAD67 protein in brains of Gad1tTA/STOP−tetO mice treated with doxycycline (Dox) was decreased by approximately 90%. The GABA content was also decreased in the brains of Dox-treated Gad1tTA/STOP−tetO mice. In the open-field test, Dox-treated Gad1tTA/STOP−tetO mice exhibited hyper-locomotor activity and decreased duration spent in the center region. In addition, acoustic startle responses were impaired in Dox-treated Gad1tTA/STOP−tetO mice. These results suggest that global reduction in GAD67 elicits emotional abnormalities in mice. These GAD67 knockdown mice will be useful for elucidating the neurobiological mechanisms of emotional abnormalities, such as anxiety symptoms associated with psychiatric disorders.
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