CD44 is a transmembrane receptor for the glycosaminoglycan hyaluronan, a component of the extracellular matrix. CD44 is expressed by neural stem/progenitor cells, astrocytes, and some neurons but its function in the central nervous system is unknown. To determine the role of CD44 in brain function, we behaviorally analyzed CD44-null (KO) and wild-type (WT) mice. KO mice showed increased activity levels in the light-dark test and a trend toward increased activity in the open field. In addition, KO mice showed impaired hippocampus-dependent spatial memory retention in the probe trial following the first hidden-platform training day in the Morris water maze: WT mice showed spatial memory retention and spent more time in the target quadrant than any other quadrant, while KO mice did not. Although there were no genotype differences in swim speeds during the water maze training sessions with the visible or hidden platform, sensorimotor impairments were seen in other behavioral tests. In the inclined screen and balance beam tests, KO mice moved less than WT mice. In the wire hang test, KO mice also fell off of the wire faster than WT mice. In contrast, there was no genotype difference when emotional learning and memory were assessed in the passive avoidance test. These data support an important role for CD44 in locomotor and sensorimotor functions, and in spatial memory retention.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Behavioral Neuroscience