Dysfunction of NMDA receptors in neuronal models of an autism spectrum disorder patient with a DSCAM mutation and in Dscam-knockout mice

Chae Seok Lim, Min Jung Kim, Ja Eun Choi, Md Ariful Islam, You Kyung Lee, Yinyi Xiong, Kyu Won Shim, Jung eun Yang, Ro Un Lee, Jiah Lee, Pojeong Park, Ji Hye Kwak, Hyunhyo Seo, Chul Hoon Kim, Jae Hyung Lee, Yong Seok Lee, Su Kyeong Hwang, Kyungmin Lee, Jin A. Lee, Bong Kiun Kaang

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Heterogeneity in the etiopathology of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) limits the development of generic remedies, requires individualistic and patient-specific research. Recent progress in human-induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology provides a novel platform for modeling ASDs for studying complex neuronal phenotypes. In this study, we generated telencephalic induced neuronal (iN) cells from iPSCs derived from an ASD patient with a heterozygous point mutation in the DSCAM gene. The mRNA of DSCAM and the density of DSCAM in dendrites were significantly decreased in ASD compared to control iN cells. RNA sequencing analysis revealed that several synaptic function-related genes including NMDA receptor subunits were downregulated in ASD iN cells. Moreover, NMDA receptor (R)-mediated currents were significantly reduced in ASD compared to control iN cells. Normal NMDA-R-mediated current levels were rescued by expressing wild-type DSCAM in ASD iN cells, and reduced currents were observed by truncated DSCAM expression in control iN cells. shRNA-mediated DSCAM knockdown in control iN cells resulted in the downregulation of an NMDA-R subunit, which was rescued by the overexpression of shRNA-resistant DSCAM. Furthermore, DSCAM was co-localized with NMDA-R components in the dendritic spines of iN cells whereas their co-localizations were significantly reduced in ASD iN cells. Levels of phospho-ERK1/2 were significantly lower in ASD iN cells, suggesting a potential mechanism. A neural stem cell-specific Dscam heterozygous knockout mouse model, showing deficits in social interaction and social memory with reduced NMDA-R currents. These data suggest that DSCAM mutation causes pathological symptoms of ASD by dysregulating NMDA-R function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7538-7549
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular Psychiatry
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


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