Deficient adaptation to centrosome duplication defects in neural progenitors causes microcephaly and subcortical heterotopias

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Congenital microcephaly (MCPH) is a neurodevelopmental disease associated to mutations in genes encoding proteins involved in centrosomal and chromosomal dynamics during mitosis. Detailed MCPH pathogenesis at the cellular level is still elusive given the diversity of MCPH genes and lack of comparative in vivo studies. By generating a series of CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genetic knockouts we report here that, whereas defects in spindle pole proteins (ASPM, MCPH5) result in mild microcephaly during development, lack of centrosome (CDK5RAP2, MCPH3) or centriole (CEP135, MCPH8) regulators induces delayed chromosome segregation and chromosomal instability in neural progenitors (NPs). Our novel mouse model of MCPH8 suggests that Cep135 deficiency results in centriole duplication, TP53 activation and cell death of NPs. Trp53 ablation in a Cep135-deficient background prevents cell death, but not microcephaly, and leads to subcortical heterotopias, a malformation seen in MCPH8 patients. These results suggest that microcephaly in some MCPH patients can arise from the lack of adaptation to centriole defects in NPs and may lead to architectural defects if chromosomally unstable cells are not eliminated during brain development.

Journal details

Journal JCI insight
Volume 6
Issue number 16
Pages e146364
Available online
Publication date

Crick labs/facilities