Pluto Bioinformatics

GSE122550: SHANK2 mutations associated with autism spectrum disorder cause hyperconnectivity of human neurons

Bulk RNA sequencing

Heterozygous loss-of-function mutations in the synaptic scaffolding gene SHANK2 are strongly associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). To investigate their effect on synaptic connectivity, we generated cortical neurons from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) derived from neurotypic and ASD-affected donors. We developed Sparse coculture for Connectivity (SparCon) assays where SHANK2 and control neurons were differentially labeled and sparsely seeded together on a lawn of unlabeled control neurons. We observed striking increases in total synapse number and dendrite complexity. Dendrite length increases were exacerbated by IGF1 or BDNF treatment. Increased excitatory synapse function in haploinsufficient SHANK2 neurons was phenocopied in gene-edited knockout SHANK2 neurons. Gene correction of an ASD SHANK2 mutation rescued excitatory synapse function supporting a role for SHANK2 as a negative regulator of connectivity in developing human neurons. The transcriptome in these isogenic SHANK2 neurons was deeply perturbed in synaptic and plasticity gene sets and ASD gene modules, and activity dependent dendrite extension was defective. Our unexpected findings provide evidence for hyperconnectivity and profoundly altered transcriptome in SHANK2 neurons derived from ASD subjects. SOURCE: James Ellis ( - Hospital for Sick Children

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