Vesicular (v)- and target (t)-SNARE proteins assemble in SNARE complex to mediate membrane fusion. Tetanus neurotoxin-insensitive vesicular-associated membrane protein (TI-VAMP/VAMP7), a vesicular SNARE expressed in several cell types including neurons, was previously shown to play a major role in exocytosis involved in neurite growth in cultured neurons. Here we generated a complete constitutive knock-out by deleting the exon 3 of Vamp7. Loss of TI-VAMP expression did not lead to any striking developmental or neurological defect. Knock-out mice displayed decreased brain weight and increased third ventricle volume. Axon growth appeared normal in cultured knock-out neurons. Behavioral characterization unraveled that TI-VAMP knock-out was associated with increased anxiety. Our results thus suggest compensatory mechanisms allowing the TI-VAMP knock-out mice to fulfill major developmental processes. The phenotypic traits unraveled here further indicate an unexpected role of TI-VAMP-mediated vesicular traffic in anxiety and suggest a role for TI-VAMP in higher brain functions.
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