These are the first experimental data that associate a deletion of Neurexin 1α with alterations in behaviours relevant to autism spectrum disorder across development and highlight the importance of assessing the developmental trajectory in mouse models of neurodevelopmental disorders.This article is protected by copyright.All rights reserved.
The spectrum of phenotypes associated with heterozygous deletions of neurexin-1 (NRXN1) is diverse and includes: autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, intellectual disability, seizures, schizophrenia, mood disorders and congenital malformations.
Here, we examined the synaptic effects of rat Mint2 N723S mutation (equivalent to autism-linked human MINT2 N722S mutation) which targets a conserved asparagine residue in the second PDZ domain of Mint2 that binds to neurexin-1α (Nrxn1α), a presynaptic cell-adhesion protein implicated in ASDs.
To better understand the degree and extent to which individual genes associated with ASD differ in their contribution to global measures of white matter microstructure, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) was acquired from three novel rat genetic models of ASD (Fmr1, Nrxn1, and Pten) and DTI parameters of fractional anisotropy, mean, axial, and radial diffusivity were measured.
The two deletions upstream of the NRXN1 gene were found to segregate with psychiatric disorders in the family and further similar deletions have been observed in patients diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
Examples of such intergenic CNV regions include 16q21 and 2p16.3 near known ASD risk genes CDH8 and NRXN1 respectively, as well as novel loci contiguous with ZHX2, MOCS1, LRRC4C, SEMA3C, and other genes.
Examples include CAPRIN1 and AFF2 (both linked to FMR1, which is involved in fragile X syndrome), VIP (involved in social-cognitive deficits), and other genes such as SCN2A and KCNQ2 (linked to epilepsy), NRXN1, and CHD7, which causes ASD-associated CHARGE syndrome.
Assessment of the clinical details in 25 previously undescribed individuals with NRXN1 exonic deletions demonstrated recurrent phenotypic features consisting of moderate to severe intellectual disability (91%), severe language delay (81%), autism spectrum disorder (65%), seizures (43%), and hypotonia (38%).
Since this represents one of the core symptom domains affected in autism spectrum disorders and schizophrenia in humans, our findings suggest that deletions within NRXN1 found in patients may be responsible for the impairments seen in social behaviours, and that the Nrxn1α KO mice are a useful model of human neurodevelopmental disorder.
Gephyrin has well-established functional links with several synaptic proteins that have been implicated in genetic risk for neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), schizophrenia and epilepsy including the neuroligins (NLGN2, NLGN4), the neurexins (NRXN1, NRXN2, NRXN3) and collybistin (ARHGEF9).
We review the evidence for the role of neurexin-1α in schizophrenia and ASD, and consider how genetic disruption of neurexin-1α may underpin the neuropathology contributing to these distinct neurodevelopmental disorders.
Copy number variants (CNVs) and intragenic rearrangements of the NRXN1 (neurexin 1) gene are associated with a wide spectrum of developmental and neuropsychiatric disorders, including intellectual disability, speech delay, autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), hypotonia and schizophrenia.
Our findings link NRXN2 disruption to the pathogenesis of ASD for the first time and further strengthen the involvement of NRXN1 in SCZ, supporting the notion of a common genetic mechanism in these disorders.
Heterozygous copy-number and missense variants in CNTNAP2 and NRXN1 have repeatedly been associated with a wide spectrum of neuropsychiatric disorders such as developmental language and autism spectrum disorders, epilepsy and schizophrenia.
A number of genes that undergo radical changes in expression during this transition include candidates for schizophrenia (SZ), bipolar disorder (BD) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD) that function as transcription factors and chromatin modifiers, such as POU3F2 and ZNF804A, and genes coding for cell adhesion proteins implicated in these conditions including NRXN1 and NLGN1.
We estimate there are 130-234 ASD-related CNV regions in the human genome and present compelling evidence, based on cumulative data, for association of rare de novo events at 7q11.23, 15q11.2-13.1, 16p11.2, and Neurexin 1.