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The guanine nucleotide exchange factor, Spata13, influences social behaviour and nocturnal activity
Nora Bourbia, Paige Chandler, Gemma Codner, Gareth Banks, and Patrick M. Nolan
Spermatogenesis-associated protein 13 (Spata13) is a guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) enriched in discrete brain regions in the adult, with pronounced expression in the extended central amygdala (CeA). Loss of Spata13, also known as the adenomatous polyposis coli exchange factor Asef2, has no identifiable phenotype although it has been shown to reduce the number and size of intestinal tumours in Apc (Min/+) mice. Nevertheless, its brain-related functions have not been investigated. To pursue this, we have generated a Spata13 knockout mouse line using CRISPR-mediated deletion of an exon containing the GTPase domain that is common to multiple isoforms. Homozygous mutants were viable and appeared normal. We subjected both male and female cohorts to a comprehensive battery of behavioural tests designed to investigate particular CeA-related functions. Here, we show that Spata13 modulates social behaviour with homozygous mutants being subordinate to wildtype controls. Furthermore, female homozygotes show increased activity in home cages during the dark phase of the light-dark cycle. In summary, Spata13 modulates social hierarchy in both male and female mice in addition to affecting voluntary activity in females.