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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2017, Article ID 8361290, 9 pages
Research Article

Social Isolation Alters Social and Mating Behavior in the R451C Neuroligin Mouse Model of Autism

1Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Melbourne Brain Centre, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC 3010, Australia
2Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC 3010, Australia
3Psychological Sciences, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC 3010, Australia
4Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, 245 Burgundy St, Heidelberg, VIC 3084, Australia

Correspondence should be addressed to E. L. Burrows; ua.ude.yerolf@sworrub.amme

Received 16 May 2016; Revised 28 October 2016; Accepted 22 November 2016; Published 31 January 2017

Academic Editor: Wim E. Crusio

Copyright © 2017 E. L. Burrows et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder typified by impaired social communication and restrictive and repetitive behaviors. Mice serve as an ideal candidate organism for studying the neural mechanisms that subserve these symptoms. The Neuroligin-3 (NL3) mouse, expressing a R451C mutation discovered in two Swedish brothers with ASD, exhibits impaired social interactions and heightened aggressive behavior towards male mice. Social interactions with female mice have not been characterized and in the present study were assessed in male and WT mice. Mice were housed in social and isolation conditions to test for isolation-induced increases in social interaction. Tests were repeated to investigate potential differences in interaction in naïve and experienced mice. We identified heightened interest in mating and atypical aggressive behavior in mice. mice exhibited normal social interaction with WT females, indicating that abnormal aggressive behavior towards females is not due to altered motivation to engage. Social isolation rearing heightened interest in social behavior in all mice. Isolation housing selectively modulated the response to female pheromones in mice. This study is the first to show altered mating behavior in the mouse and has provided new insights into the aggressive phenotype in this model.