Full function of exon junction complex factor, Rbm8a, is critical for interneuron development

Colleen McSweeney, Fengping Dong, Miranda Chen, Jessica Vitale, Li Xu, Nicole Crowley, Bernhard Luscher, Donghua Zou, Yingwei Mao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The formation of the nervous system requires a balance between proliferation, differentiation, and migration of neural progenitors (NPs). Mutations in genes regulating development impede neurogenesis and lead to neuropsychiatric diseases, including autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and schizophrenia (SZ). Recently, mutations in nonsense-mediated mRNA decay genes have been associated with ASDs, intellectual disability (ID), and SZ. Here, we examine the function of a gene in the exon junction complex, Rbm8a, in the cortical development. When Rbm8a is selectively knocked out in neural stem cells, the resulting mice exhibit microcephaly, early postnatal lethality, and altered distribution of excitatory neurons in the neocortex. Moreover, Rbm8a haploinsufficiency in the central nervous system decreases cell proliferation in the ganglionic eminences. Parvalbumin+ and neuropeptide Y+ interneurons in the cortex are significantly reduced, and distribution of interneurons are altered. Consistently, neurons in the cortex of conditional knockout (cKO) mice show a significant decrease in GABA frequency. Transcriptomic analysis revealed differentially expressed genes enriched in telencephalon development and mitosis. To further investigate the role of Rbm8a in interneuron differentiation, conditional KO of Rbm8a in NKX2.1 interneuron progenitor cells reduces progenitor proliferation and alters interneuron distributions. Taken together, these data reveal a critical role of Rbm8a in interneuron development, and establish that perturbation of this gene leads to profound cortical deficits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number379
JournalTranslational psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry


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