Identification of Vulnerable Interneuron Subtypes in 15q13.3 Microdeletion Syndrome Using Single-Cell Transcriptomics

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BACKGROUND: A number of rare copy number variants (CNVs) have been linked to neurodevelopmental disorders. However, because CNVs encompass many genes, it is often difficult to identify the mechanisms that lead to developmental perturbations.

METHODS: We used 15q13.3 microdeletion to propose and validate a novel strategy to predict the impact of CNV genes on brain development that could further guide functional studies. We analyzed single-cell transcriptomics datasets containing cortical interneurons to identify their developmental vulnerability to 15q13.3 microdeletion, which was validated in mouse models.

RESULTS: We found that Klf13-but not other 15q13.3 genes-is expressed by precursors and neuroblasts in the medial and caudal ganglionic eminences during development, with a peak of expression at embryonic day (E)13.5 and E18.5, respectively. In contrast, in the adult mouse brain, Klf13 expression is negligible. Using Df(h15q13.3)/+ and Klf13+/- embryos, we observed a precursor subtype-specific impairment in proliferation in the medial ganglionic eminence and caudal ganglionic eminence at E13.5 and E17.5, respectively, corresponding to vulnerability predicted by Klf13 expression patterns. Finally, Klf13+/- mice showed a layer-specific decrease in parvalbumin and somatostatin cortical interneurons accompanied by changes in locomotor and anxiety-related behavior.

CONCLUSIONS: We show that the impact of 15q13.3 microdeletion on precursor proliferation is grounded in a reduction in Klf13 expression. The lack of Klf13 in Df(h15q13.3)/+ cortex might be the major reason for perturbed density of cortical interneurons. Thus, the behavioral defects seen in 15q13.3 microdeletion could stem from a developmental perturbation owing to selective vulnerability of cortical interneurons during sensitive stages of their development.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)727-739
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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Copyright © 2021 Society of Biological Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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