The trophic factor neuregulin 1 (Nrg1) and its receptor ErbB4 are schizophrenia candidate genes. NRG1-ErbB4 signaling was thought to regulate spine formation and function in a cell-autonomous manner. Yet, recent studies indicate that ErbB4 expression is largely restricted to GABAergic interneurons and is very low or absent in pyramidal cells. Here, we generated and characterized cell type-specific ErbB4 mutant and transgenic mice. Spine density and the number of excitatory synapses were unaltered by neither deletion nor overexpression of ErbB4 in pyramidal neurons. However, spine density and excitatory synapse number were reduced in PV-ErbB4-/- mice where ErbB4 was selectively ablated in parvalbumin-positive GABAergic interneurons. Concurrently, basal glutamate transmission was impaired in PV-ErbB4-/- mice, but not in mice where ErbB4 was deleted or overexpressed in pyramidal neurons. Our results demonstrate a role of ErbB4 in PV-positive interneurons for spine formation in excitatory neurons.
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