Mice with reduced NMDA receptor expression display behaviors related to schizophrenia.
N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDARs) represent a subclass of glutamate receptors that play a critical role in neuronal development and physiology. We report here the generation of mice expressing only 5% of normal levels of the essential NMDAR1 (NR1) subunit. Unlike NR1 null mice, these mice survive to adulthood and display behavioral abnormalities, including increased motor activity and stereotypy and deficits in social and sexual interactions. These behavioral alterations are similar to those observed in pharmacologically induced animal models of schizophrenia and can be ameliorated by treatment with haloperidol or clozapine, antipsychotic drugs that antagonize dopaminergic and serotonergic receptors. These findings support a model in which reduced NMDA receptor activity results in schizophrenic-like behavior and reveals how pharmacological manipulation of monoaminergic pathways can affect this phenotype.