The aim of the present study was to establish an in vitro Kleefstra syndrome (KS) disease model using the human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC) technology. Previously, an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) patient with Kleefstra syndrome (KS-ASD) carrying a deleterious premature termination codon mutation in the EHMT1 gene was identified. Patient specific hiPSCs generated from peripheral blood mononuclear cells of the KS-ASD patient were differentiated into post-mitotic cortical neurons. Lower levels of EHMT1 mRNA as well as protein expression were confirmed in these cells. Morphological analysis on neuronal cells differentiated from the KS-ASD patient-derived hiPSC clones showed significantly shorter neurites and reduced arborization compared to cells generated from healthy controls. Moreover, density of dendritic protrusions of neuronal cells derived from KS-ASD hiPSCs was lower than that of control cells. Synaptic connections and spontaneous neuronal activity measured by live cell calcium imaging could be detected after 5 weeks of differentiation, when KS-ASD cells exhibited higher sensitivity of calcium responses to acetylcholine stimulation indicating a lower nicotinic cholinergic tone at baseline condition in KS-ASD cells. In addition, gene expression profiling of differentiated neuronal cells from the KS-ASD patient revealed higher expression of proliferation-related genes and lower mRNA levels of genes involved in neuronal maturation and migration. Our data demonstrate anomalous neuronal morphology, functional activity and gene expression in KS-ASD patient-specific hiPSC-derived neuronal cultures, which offers an in vitro system that contributes to a better understanding of KS and potentially other neurodevelopmental disorders including ASD.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Biological Psychiatry