Hyperexcitable Phenotypes 15q11-q13 Duplication Syndrome

May 20, 2022
Hyperexcitable Phenotypes in Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Neurons From Patients With 15q11-q13 Duplication Syndrome, a Genetic Form of Autism


Background: Chromosome 15q11-q13 duplication syndrome (Dup15q) is a neurogenetic disorder caused by duplications of the maternal copy of this region. In addition to hypotonia, motor deficits, and language impairments, patients with Dup15q commonly meet the criteria for autism spectrum disorder and have a high prevalence of seizures. It is known from mouse models that synaptic impairments are a strong component of Dup15q pathophysiology; however, cellular phenotypes that relate to seizures are less clear. The development of patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells provides a unique opportunity to study human neurons with the exact genetic disruptions that cause Dup15q.

Methods: Here, we explored electrophysiological phenotypes in induced pluripotent stem cell-derived neurons from 4 patients with Dup15q compared with 6 unaffected control subjects, 1 patient with a 15q11-q13 paternal duplication, and 3 patients with Angelman syndrome.

Results: We identified several properties of Dup15q neurons that could contribute to neuronal hyperexcitability and seizure susceptibility. Compared with control neurons, Dup15q neurons had increased excitatory synaptic event frequency and amplitude, increased density of dendritic protrusions, increased action potential firing, and decreased inhibitory synaptic transmission. Dup15q neurons also showed impairments in activity-dependent synaptic plasticity and homeostatic synaptic scaling. Finally, Dup15q neurons showed an increased frequency of spontaneous action potential firing compared with control neurons, in part due to disruption of KCNQ2 potassium channels.

Conclusions: Together, these data point to multiple electrophysiological mechanisms of hyperexcitability that may provide new targets for the treatment of seizures and other phenotypes associated with Dup15q.

Keywords: Autism; Autism spectrum disorder; Chromosome 15; Dup15q syndrome; Electrophysiology; Hyperexcitability; Neurodevelopment; iPSC.

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