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DSCAM Deficiency Leads to Premature Spine Maturation and Autism-like Behaviors


Mutations in some cell adhesion molecules (CAMs) cause abnormal synapse formation and maturation, and serve as one of the potential mechanisms of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Recently, DSCAM (Down syndrome cell adhesion molecule) was found to be a high-risk gene for autism. However, it is still unclear how DSCAM contributes to ASD. Here, we show that DSCAM expression was downregulated following synapse maturation, and that DSCAM deficiency caused accelerated dendritic spine maturation during early postnatal development. Mechanistically, the extracellular domain of DSCAM interacts with neuroligin1 (NLGN1) to block the NLGN1-neurexin1β (NRXN1β) interaction. DSCAM extracellular domain was able to rescue spine overmaturation in DSCAM knockdown neurons. Precocious spines in DSCAM-deficient mice showed increased glutamatergic transmission in the developing cortex and induced autism-like behaviors, such as social novelty deficits and repetitive behaviors. Thus, DSCAM might be a repressor that prevents premature spine maturation and excessive glutamatergic transmission, and its deficiency could lead to autism-like behaviors. Our study provides new insight into the potential pathophysiological mechanisms of ASDs.


Chen, P., Liu, Z., Zhang, Q., Lin, D., Lu, S., Liu, J., ... & Fei, E. (2021). DSCAM deficiency leads to premature spine maturation and autism-like behaviors. Journal of Neuroscience.

For Research Use Only. Not For Clinical Use.
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