Deakin University

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Relaxin-3 null mutation mice display a circadian hypoactivity phenotype

journal contribution
posted on 2012-02-01, 00:00 authored by Craig SmithCraig Smith, I T Hosken, S W Sutton, A J Lawrence, A L Gundlach
Characterizing the neurocircuits and neurotransmitters that underlie arousal and circadian sleep/wake patterns is an important goal of neuroscience research, with potential implications for understanding human mental illnesses, such as major depression. Recent anatomical and functional studies suggest that relaxin-3 neurons and their ascending projections contribute to these functions via actions on key cortical, limbic and hypothalamic circuits. This study reports the behavioral phenotype of C57BL/6J backcrossed relaxin-3 knockout (KO) mice. Cohorts of adult, male and female relaxin-3 KO and wild-type (WT) littermate mice were subjected to a battery of behavioral tests to assess sensorimotor function and complex behavior. No overt deficits were detected in motor-coordination, spatial memory, sensorimotor gating, anxiety-like behavior or locomotor behavior in novel environments; and no marked genotype differences were observed in response to a chronic stress protocol. Notably however, compared to WT mice, relaxin-3 KO mice displayed robust hypoactivity during the dark/active phase when provided with free home-cage access to voluntary running wheels. This circadian hypoactivity was reflected by reduced time spent and distance traveled on running wheels, coupled with an increase in the time spent immobile, possibly reflecting increased sleeping. Overall, these studies support a role for relaxin-3 signaling in the control of arousal and sleep/wakefulness, and identify the relaxin-3 KO mouse as a useful model to study this role further.



Genes, brain and behavior






94 - 104


Wiley-Blackwell Publishing


Hoboken, N.J.





Publication classification

C Journal article; C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2011, The Authors