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Crux, Sophie; Herms, Jochen; Dorostkar, Mario M. (2018): Tcf4 regulates dendritic spine density and morphology in the adult brain.
In: PLOS One 13(6), e0199359
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Tcf4 is a transcription factor which regulates neurogenesis and neuronal migration in the brain. In humans, loss of function of Tcf4 leads to the rare neurodevelopmental disorder Pitt-Hopkins syndrome, which is characterized by intellectual disability, developmental delay and autistic behavior. We analyzed the consequences of functional loss of Tcf4 on dendritic spines in mature principal neurons. To this end, we crossed mice in which the DNA-binding domain of the Tcf4 gene is flanked by LoxP sites to mice expressing tamoxifen-inducible cre recombinase in a sparse subset of fluorescently labelled neurons (SlickV line). This resulted in a mouse model with an inducible functional knockout of Tcf4 in a subset of cortical and hippocampal neurons, in which we analyzed dendritic spines, which are the morphological correlate of excitatory postsynapses. Heterozygous as well as homozygous loss of Tcf4 led to a reduction in the number of dendritic spines in the cortex as well as in the hippocampus. This was accompanied by morphological changes of dendritic spines. These results suggest that Tcf4 is involved in synaptic plasticity in mature neurons, and functional loss of Tcf4 may contribute to the neurological symptoms in Pitt-Hopkins syndrome.