NS-Pten knockout mice show sex-and-age specific differences in ultrasonic vocalizations.
One signaling cascade that plays a crucial role in the development of an autistic-like phenotype is the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway. Mouse models that illustrate this connection include Fmr1, Tsc1, and NS-Pten deficient mice. While numerous studies have investigated ultrasonic vocalizations in Fmr1 knockout and Tsc1 heterogenous mice, none have investigated USVs in NS-Pten knockout mice using a full spectrum recording system. In the current study, male and female knockout and wildtype NS-Pten pup USVs were examined. We found that knockout pups emitted fewer vocalizations for both sexes. We also found differences between genotypes and sexes for call type composition and the spectral characteristics of the calls. These findings demonstrate that deletion of NS-Pten results in significant decreases in vocalizations and vocalization characteristics across both sexes. Our study provides evidence of a connection between hyperactive mTOR signaling and aberrant ultrasonic vocalizations.