Human Neuropsychiatric Disease Modeling using Conditional Deletion Reveals Synaptic Transmission Defects Caused by Heterozygous Mutations in NRXN1.
ABSTRACT: Heterozygous mutations of the NRXN1 gene, which encodes the presynaptic cell-adhesion molecule neurexin-1, were repeatedly associated with autism and schizophrenia. However, diverse clinical presentations of NRXN1 mutations in patients raise the question of whether heterozygous NRXN1 mutations alone directly impair synaptic function. To address this question under conditions that precisely control for genetic background, we generated human ESCs with different heterozygous conditional NRXN1 mutations and analyzed two different types of isogenic control and NRXN1 mutant neurons derived from these ESCs. Both heterozygous NRXN1 mutations selectively impaired neurotransmitter release in human neurons without changing neuronal differentiation or synapse formation. Moreover, both NRXN1 mutations increased the levels of CASK, a critical synaptic scaffolding protein that binds to neurexin-1. Our results show that, unexpectedly, heterozygous inactivation of NRXN1 directly impairs synaptic function in human neurons, and they illustrate the value of this conditional deletion approach for studying the functional effects of disease-associated mutations.
Project description:The aim of this study was to identify the sequence mutations in the Neurexin 1 (NRXN1) gene that has been considered as one of the strong candidate genes. A total of 30 children and adolescents (aged 3-18) with non syndromic autism were enrolled this study. Sequencing of the coding exons and the exon-intron boundaries of the NRXN1 gene was performed. Two known mutations were described in two different cases. Heterozygous S14L was determined in one patient and heterozygous L748I was determined in another patient. The S14L and L748I mutations have been described in the patients with autism before. Both of these mutations were inherited from their father. In this study, two of 30 (6.7%) autism spectrum disorder (ASD) patients carrying NRXN1 gene mutations were detected. It indicates that variants in the NRXN1 gene might confer a risk of developing nonsyndromic ASD. However, due to the reduced penetrance in the gene, the causal role of the NRXN1 gene mutations must be evaluated carefully in all cases.
Project description:Heterozygous copy-number variants and SNPs of CNTNAP2 and NRXN1, two distantly related members of the neurexin superfamily, have been repeatedly associated with a wide spectrum of neuropsychiatric disorders, such as developmental language disorders, autism spectrum disorders, epilepsy, and schizophrenia. We now identified homozygous and compound-heterozygous deletions and mutations via molecular karyotyping and mutational screening in CNTNAP2 and NRXN1 in four patients with severe mental retardation (MR) and variable features, such as autistic behavior, epilepsy, and breathing anomalies, phenotypically overlapping with Pitt-Hopkins syndrome. With a frequency of at least 1% in our cohort of 179 patients, recessive defects in CNTNAP2 appear to significantly contribute to severe MR. Whereas the established synaptic role of NRXN1 suggests that synaptic defects contribute to the associated neuropsychiatric disorders and to severe MR as reported here, evidence for a synaptic role of the CNTNAP2-encoded protein CASPR2 has so far been lacking. Using Drosophila as a model, we now show that, as known for fly Nrx-I, the CASPR2 ortholog Nrx-IV might also localize to synapses. Overexpression of either protein can reorganize synaptic morphology and induce increased density of active zones, the synaptic domains of neurotransmitter release. Moreover, both Nrx-I and Nrx-IV determine the level of the presynaptic active-zone protein bruchpilot, indicating a possible common molecular mechanism in Nrx-I and Nrx-IV mutant conditions. We therefore propose that an analogous shared synaptic mechanism contributes to the similar clinical phenotypes resulting from defects in human NRXN1 and CNTNAP2.
Project description:NRXN1 undergoes extensive alternative splicing, and non-recurrent heterozygous deletions in NRXN1 are strongly associated with neuropsychiatric disorders. We establish that human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived neurons well represent the diversity of NRXN1? alternative splicing observed in the human brain, cataloguing 123 high-confidence in-frame human NRXN1? isoforms. Patient-derived NRXN1+/- hiPSC-neurons show a greater than twofold reduction in half of the wild-type NRXN1? isoforms and express dozens of novel isoforms from the mutant allele. Reduced neuronal activity in patient-derived NRXN1+/- hiPSC-neurons is ameliorated by overexpression of individual control isoforms in a genotype-dependent manner, whereas individual mutant isoforms decrease neuronal activity levels in control hiPSC-neurons. In a genotype-dependent manner, the phenotypic impact of patient-specific NRXN1+/- mutations can occur through a reduction in wild-type NRXN1? isoform levels as well as the presence of mutant NRXN1? isoforms.
Project description:Growing genetic evidence is converging in favor of common pathogenic mechanisms for autism spectrum disorders (ASD), intellectual disability (ID or mental retardation) and schizophrenia (SCZ), three neurodevelopmental disorders affecting cognition and behavior. Copy number variations and deleterious mutations in synaptic organizing proteins including NRXN1 have been associated with these neurodevelopmental disorders, but no such associations have been reported for NRXN2 or NRXN3. From resequencing the three neurexin genes in individuals affected by ASD (n = 142), SCZ (n = 143) or non-syndromic ID (n = 94), we identified a truncating mutation in NRXN2 in a patient with ASD inherited from a father with severe language delay and family history of SCZ. We also identified a de novo truncating mutation in NRXN1 in a patient with SCZ, and other potential pathogenic ASD mutations. These truncating mutations result in proteins that fail to promote synaptic differentiation in neuron coculture and fail to bind either of the established postsynaptic binding partners LRRTM2 or NLGN2 in cell binding assays. Our findings link NRXN2 disruption to the pathogenesis of ASD for the first time and further strengthen the involvement of NRXN1 in SCZ, supporting the notion of a common genetic mechanism in these disorders.
Project description:Neurexins are a family of presynaptic cell adhesion proteins that regulate synaptic structure and maintain normal synaptic transmission. Mutations in the ?-isoform of neurexin1-gene (NRXN1?) are linked with cognitive and emotional dysregulation, which are heavily dependent on the amygdala and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). It is however not known whether deletion of NRXN1? gene affect specific synaptic elements within the amygdala microcircuit and connectivity with mPFC. In this study, we show that NRXN1? deletion impairs synaptic transmission between the dorsal medial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) and basal amygdala (BA) principal neurons. Stimulation of dmPFC fibers resulted in reduced paired pulse ratio (PPR) and AMPA/NMDA ratio at dmPFC to BA synapses in NRXN1?-knockout (KO) (NRXN1? KO) mice suggestive of pre- and postsynaptic deficits but there was no change at the lateral amygdala (LA) to BA synapses following LA stimulation. However, feedforward inhibition from either pathway was significantly reduced, suggestive of input-independent deficit in GABAergic transmission within BA. We further analyzed BA inhibitory network and found reduced connectivity between BA GABAergic and glutamatergic neurons in NRXN1? KO mice. As this circuit is tightly linked with fear regulation, we subjected NRXN1? KO and WT mice to discriminative fear conditioning and found a deficit in fear memory retrieval in NRXN1? KO mice compared with WT mice. Together, we provide novel evidence that deletion of NRNX1? disrupts amygdala fear circuit.
Project description:Neurexins are presynaptic neuronal adhesion molecules that interact with postsynaptic neuroligins to form an inter-synaptic complex required for synaptic specification and efficient neurotransmission. Deletions and point mutations in the neurexin 1 (NRXN1) gene are associated with a broad spectrum of neuropsychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism, intellectual disability, epilepsy, developmental delay, and schizophrenia. Recently, small nucleotide polymorphisms in NRXN1 have been associated with antipsychotic drug response in patients with schizophrenia. Based on previous suggestive evidence of an impact on clozapine response in patients with schizophrenia, we conducted an association study of NRXN1 polymorphisms (rs12467557 and rs10490162) with antipsychotic treatment response in 54 patients with schizophrenia in a double blind, placebo-controlled NIMH inpatient crossover trial and examined for association with risk for schizophrenia in independent case-control and family-based clinical cohorts. Pharmacogenetic analysis in the placebo controlled trial revealed significant association of rs12467557and rs10490162 with drug response, whereby individuals homozygous for the A allele, at either SNP, showed significant improvement in positive symptoms, general psychopathology, thought disturbance, and negative symptoms, whereas patients carrying the G allele showed no overall response. Although we did not find evidence of the same NRXN1 SNPs being associated with results of the NIMH sponsored CATIE trial, other SNPs showed weakly positive signals. The family and case-control analyses for schizophrenia risk were negative. Our results provide confirmatory evidence of genetically determined differences in drug response in patients with schizophrenia related to NRXN1 variation. Furthermore, these findings potentially implicate NRXN1 in the therapeutic actions of antipsychotic drugs.
Project description:Neurexin 1 (NRXN1), a presynaptic cell adhesion molecule, is implicated in several neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by synaptic dysfunction including autism, intellectual disability and schizophrenia. To gain insight into NRXN1's involvement in human cortical development we used quantitative real-time PCR to examine the expression trajectories of NRXN1, and its predominant isoforms, NRXN1-? and NRXN1-?, in prefrontal cortex from fetal stages to aging. In addition, we investigated whether prefrontal cortical expression levels of NRXN1 transcripts are altered in schizophrenia or bipolar disorder in comparison with non-psychiatric control subjects. We observed that all three NRXN1 transcripts were highly expressed during human fetal cortical development, markedly increasing with gestational age. In the postnatal dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, expression levels were negatively correlated with age, peaking at birth until ~3 years of age, after which levels declined markedly to be stable across the lifespan. NRXN1-? expression was modestly but significantly elevated in the brains of patients with schizophrenia compared with non-psychiatric controls, whereas NRXN1-? expression was increased in bipolar disorder. These data provide novel evidence that NRXN1 expression is highest in human dorsolateral prefrontal cortex during critical developmental windows relevant to the onset and diagnosis of a range of neurodevelopmental disorders, and that NRXN1 expression may be differentially altered in neuropsychiatric disorders.
Project description:Copy number variants (CNVs) and intragenic rearrangements of the NRXN1 (neurexin 1) gene are associated with a wide spectrum of developmental and neuropsychiatric disorders, including intellectual disability, speech delay, autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), hypotonia and schizophrenia. We performed a detailed clinical and molecular characterization of 24 patients who underwent clinical microarray analysis and had intragenic deletions of NRXN1. Seventeen of these deletions involved exons of NRXN1, whereas seven deleted intronic sequences only. The patients with exonic deletions manifested developmental delay/intellectual disability (93%), infantile hypotonia (59%) and ASDs (56%). Congenital malformations and dysmorphic features appeared infrequently and inconsistently among this population of patients with NRXN1 deletions. The more C-terminal deletions, including those affecting the ? isoform of neurexin 1, manifested increased head size and a high frequency of seizure disorder (88%) when compared with N-terminal deletions of NRXN1.
Project description:Research has implicated mutations in the gene for neurexin-1 (NRXN1) in a variety of conditions including autism, schizophrenia, and nicotine dependence. To our knowledge, there have been no published reports describing the breadth of the phenotype associated with mutations in NRXN1. We present a medical record review of subjects with deletions involving exonic sequences of NRXN1. We ascertained cases from 3,540 individuals referred clinically for comparative genomic hybridization testing from March 2007 to January 2009. Twelve subjects were identified with exonic deletions. The phenotype of individuals with NRXN1 deletion is variable and includes autism spectrum disorders, mental retardation, language delays, and hypotonia. There was a statistically significant increase in NRXN1 deletion in our clinical sample compared to control populations described in the literature (P = 8.9 x 10(-7)). Three additional subjects with NRXN1 deletions and autism were identified through the Homozygosity Mapping Collaborative for Autism, and this deletion segregated with the phenotype. Our study indicates that deletions of NRXN1 predispose to a wide spectrum of developmental disorders.
Project description:Early infantile epileptic encephalopathy (EIEE) is a severe disorder associated with epilepsy, developmental delay and intellectual disability, and in some cases premature mortality. We report the case of a female infant with EIEE and strikingly suppressed respiratory dysfunction that led to death. Postmortem research evaluation revealed hypoplasia of the arcuate nucleus of the medulla, a candidate region for respiratory regulation. Genetic evaluation revealed heterozygous variants in the related genes NRXN1 (c.2686C>T, p.Arg896Trp) and NRXN2 (c.3176G>A, p.Arg1059Gln), one inherited from the mother with family history of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and one from the father with family history of febrile seizures. Although there are no previous reports with the digenic combination of NRXN1 and NRXN2 variants, patients with biallelic loss of NRXN1 in humans and double neurexin 1?/2? knockout mice have severe breathing abnormalities, corresponding to the respiratory phenotype of our patient. These observations and the known interaction between the NRXN1 and NRXN2 proteins lead us to hypothesize that digenic variants in NRXN1 and NRXN2 contributed to the phenotype of EIEE, arcuate nucleus hypoplasia, respiratory failure, and death.