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Cortical neuronal hyperexcitability and synaptic changes in SGCE mutation-positive myoclonus dystonia

Sperandeo, Alessandra, Tamburini, Claudia, Noakes, Zoe ORCID:, Cabezas de la Fuente, Daniel, Keefe, Francesca, Petter, Olena, Plumbly, William, Clifton, Nicholas ORCID:, Li, Meng ORCID: and Peall, Kathryn ORCID: 2023. Cortical neuronal hyperexcitability and synaptic changes in SGCE mutation-positive myoclonus dystonia. Brain 146 (4) , pp. 1523-1541. 10.1093/brain/awac365

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Myoclonus Dystonia is a childhood-onset hyperkinetic movement disorder with a combined motor and psychiatric phenotype. It represents one of the few autosomal dominant inherited dystonic disorders and is caused by mutations in the ε-sarcoglycan (SGCE) gene. Work to date suggests that dystonia is caused by disruption of neuronal networks, principally basal ganglia-cerebello-thalamo-cortical circuits. Investigation of cortical involvement has primarily focused on disruption to interneuron inhibitory activity, rather than the excitatory activity of cortical pyramidal neurons. Here, we have sought to examine excitatory cortical glutamatergic activity using two approaches; the CRISPR/Cas9 editing of a human embryonic cell line, generating an SGCE compound heterozygous mutation, and three patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cell lines (iPSC) each gene edited to generate matched wild-type SGCE control lines. Differentiation towards a cortical neuronal phenotype demonstrated no significant differences in neither early- (PAX6, FOXG1) nor late-stage (CTIP2, TBR1) neurodevelopmental markers. However, functional characterisation using Ca2+ imaging and MEA approaches identified an increase in network activity, while single-cell patch clamp studies found a greater propensity towards action potential generation with larger amplitudes and shorter half-widths associated with SGCE-mutations. Bulk-RNA-seq analysis identified gene ontological enrichment for neuron projection development, synaptic signalling, and synaptic transmission. Examination of dendritic morphology found SGCE-mutations to be associated with a significantly higher number of branches and longer branch lengths, together with longer ion-channel dense axon initial segments, particularly towards the latter stages of differentiation (D80 and D100). Gene expression and protein quantification of key synaptic proteins (synaptophysin, synapsin and PSD95), AMPA and NMDA receptor subunits found no significant differences between the SGCE-mutation and matched wild-type lines. By contrast, significant changes to synaptic adhesion molecule expression were identified, namely higher pre-synaptic neurexin-1 and lower post-synaptic neuroligin-4 levels in the SGCE mutation carrying lines. Our study demonstrates an increased intrinsic excitability of cortical glutamatergic neuronal cells in the context of SGCE mutations, coupled with a more complex neurite morphology and disruption to synaptic adhesion molecules. These changes potentially represent key components to the development of the hyperkinetic clinical phenotype observed in Myoclonus Dystonia, as well a central feature to the wider spectrum of dystonic disorders, potentially providing targets for future therapeutic development.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (CNGG)
Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute (NMHRI)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISSN: 0006-8950
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 1 November 2022
Date of Acceptance: 9 September 2022
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2024 10:30

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