Homeostatic Plasticity Commonly Fails at the Intersection of Autism-Gene Mutations and a Novel Class of Common Phenotypic Modifier
We identify a set of common phenotypic modifiers that interact with five independent autism gene orthologs (RIMS1, CHD8, CHD2, WDFY3, ASH1L) causing a common failure of presynaptic homeostatic plasticity (PHP). Heterozygous null mutations in each autism gene are demonstrated to have normal baseline neurotransmission and PHP. However, we find that PHP is sensitized and rendered prone to failure. A subsequent electrophysiology-based genetic screen identifies the first known heterozygous mutations that commonly genetically interact with multiple ASD gene orthologs, causing PHP to fail. Two phenotypic modifiers identified in the screen, PDPK1 and PPP2R5D, are characterized. Finally, transcriptomic, ultrastructural and electrophysiological analyses define one mechanism by which PHP fails; an unexpected, maladaptive up-regulation of CREG, a conserved, neuronally expressed, stress response gene and a novel repressor of PHP. Thus, we define a novel genetic landscape by which diverse, unrelated autism risk genes may converge to commonly affect the robustness of synaptic transmission.
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