Original Article

Molecular Psychiatry (2017) 22, 689–702; doi:10.1038/mp.2016.30 published online 29 March 2016

There is a Corrigendum (21 April 2017) associated with this article.

Pharmacological enhancement of mGlu5 receptors rescues behavioral deficits in SHANK3 knock-out mice

C Vicidomini1, L Ponzoni2, D Lim3, M J Schmeisser4,5, D Reim4, N Morello6, D Orellana1, A Tozzi7, V Durante8, P Scalmani9, M Mantegazza10, A A Genazzani3, M Giustetto5, M Sala1, P Calabresi8, T M Boeckers4, C Sala1 and C Verpelli1

  1. 1CNR Neuroscience Institute, Milan, Italy
  2. 2BIOMETRA University of Milan, Milan, Italy
  3. 3Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Università degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale "Amedeo Avogadro", Novara, Italy
  4. 4Institute for Anatomy and Cell Biology, Ulm University, Ulm, Germany
  5. 5Department of Neurology, Ulm University, Ulm, Germany
  6. 6Department of Neuroscience, University of Turin, Turin, Italy
  7. 7Department of Experimental Medicine, University of Perugia, Perugia, Italy
  8. 8Department of Medicine, University of Perugia and Clinica Neurologica, Santa Maria della Misericordia Hospital, Perugia, Italy
  9. 9U.O. of Neurophysiopathology and Diagnostic Epileptology, Foundation Istituto di Ricerca e Cura a Carattere Scientifico Neurological Institute Carlo Besta, Milan, Italy
  10. 10Institute of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology, Laboratory of Excellence Ion Channel Science and Therapeutics, CNRS UMR7275 and University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis, Valbonne, France

Correspondence: Dr C Verpelli, CNR Neuroscience Institute, Via Vanvitelli 32, Milan 20129, Italy. E-mail: c.verpelli@in.cnr.it

Received 6 August 2015; Revised 23 December 2015; Accepted 25 January 2016
Advance online publication 29 March 2016



SHANK3 (also called PROSAP2) genetic haploinsufficiency is thought to be the major cause of neuropsychiatric symptoms in Phelan-McDermid syndrome (PMS). PMS is a rare genetic disorder that causes a severe form of intellectual disability (ID), expressive language delays and other autistic features. Furthermore, a significant number of SHANK3 mutations have been identified in patients with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and SHANK3 truncating mutations are associated with moderate to profound ID. The Shank3 protein is a scaffold protein that is located in the postsynaptic density (PSD) of excitatory synapses and is crucial for synapse development and plasticity. In this study, we investigated the molecular mechanisms associated with the ASD-like behaviors observed in Shank3Δ11/ mice, in which exon 11 has been deleted. Our results indicate that Shank3 is essential to mediating metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGlu5)-receptor signaling by recruiting Homer1b/c to the PSD, specifically in the striatum and cortex. Moreover, augmenting mGlu5-receptor activity by administering 3-Cyano-N-(1,3-diphenyl-1H-pyrazol-5-yl)benzamide ameliorated the functional and behavioral defects that were observed in Shank3Δ11/ mice, suggesting that pharmaceutical treatments that increase mGlu5 activity may represent a new approach for treating patients that are affected by PMS and SHANK3 mutations.