Learning deficits, but normal development and tumor predisposition, in mice lacking exon 23a of Nf1.
Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is a commonly inherited autosomal dominant disorder. Previous studies indicated that mice homozygous for a null mutation in Nf1 exhibit mid-gestation lethality, whereas heterozygous mice have an increased predisposition to tumors and learning impairments. Here we show that mice lacking the alternatively spliced exon 23a, which modifies the GTPase-activating protein (GAP) domain of Nf1, are viable and physically normal, and do not have an increased tumor predisposition, but show specific learning impairments. Our findings have implications for the development of a treatment for the learning disabilities associated with NF1 and indicate that the GAP domain of NF1 modulates learning and memory.