By C. Bacon et al.
Neurodevelopmental disorders are multi-faceted and can lead to intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder and language impairment. Mutations in the Forkhead box FOXP1 gene have been linked to all these disorders, suggesting that it may play a central role in various cognitive and social processes. To understand the role of Foxp1 in the context of neurodevelopment leading to alterations in cognition and behaviour, we generated mice with a brain-specific Foxp1 deletion (Nestin-CreFoxp1−/−mice). The mutant mice were viable and allowed for the first time the analysis of pre- and postnatal neurodevelopmental phenotypes, which included a pronounced disruption of the developing striatum and more subtle alterations in the hippocampus. More detailed analysis in the CA1 region revealed abnormal neuronal morphogenesis that was associated with reduced excitability and an imbalance of excitatory to inhibitory input in CA1 hippocampal neurons in Nestin-CreFoxp1−/− mice. Foxp1 ablation was also associated with various cognitive and social deficits, providing new insights into its behavioural importance.