Cerebellum-Specific Deletion of the GABAA Receptor d Subunit Leads to Sex-Specific Disruption of Behavior
Cell Reports 2020.108338
Granule cells (GCs) of the cerebellar input layer express high-affinity d GABAA subunit-containing GABAA receptors (dGABAARs) that respond to ambient GABA levels and context-dependent neuromodulators like steroids. We find that GC-specific deletion of dGABAA (cerebellar [cb] d knockout [KO]) decreases tonic inhibition, makes GCs hyperexcitable, and in turn, leads to differential activation of cb output regions as well as many cortical and subcortical brain areas involved in cognition, anxiety-like behaviors, and the stress response. Cb d KO mice display deficits in many behaviors, but motor function is normal. Strikingly, dGABAA deletion alters maternal behavior as well as spontaneous, stress-related, and social behaviors specifically in females. Our findings establish that dGABAARs enable the cerebellum to control diverse behaviors not previously associated with the cerebellum in a sex-dependent manner. These insights may contribute to a better understanding of the mechanisms that underlie behavioral abnormalities in psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders that display a gender bias.