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Re-expression of SynGAP Protein in Adulthood Improves Translatable Measures of Brain Function and Behavior in a Model of Neurodevelopmental Disorders

By Thomas K. Creson, Camilo Rojas, Ernie Hwaun, Thomas Vaissiere, Murat Kilinc, J. Lloyd Holder, Jianrong Tang, Laura Lee Colgin, Courtney A. Miller, Gavin Rumbaugh

Posted 20 Nov 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/474965

Background: Neurodevelopmental disorder (NDD) risk genes have pleiotropic biological functions, such as control over both developmental and non-developmental processes that influence disease-related phenotypes. Currently, it remains unclear how developmental versus non-developmental processes influence the duration and/or effectiveness of permissive treatment windows for NDDs. SYNGAP1 haploinsufficiency causes an NDD defined by autistic traits, cognitive impairment, and epilepsy. Syngap1 heterozygosity in mice disrupts a developmental critical period, and, consistent with this, certain behavioral abnormalities are resistant to gene therapy initiated in adulthood. However, the Syngap1 endophenotype is extensive and this protein has diverse cell biological functions. Therefore, SynGAP pleiotropy may influence the permissive treatment window for previously untested disease-relevant phenotypes. Methods: A whole-body gene restoration technique was used to determine how restoration of SynGAP protein in adult heterozygous mice impacted previously untested phenotypes, such as memory, seizure susceptibility, systems-level cortical hyperexcitability, and hippocampal oscillations linked to mnemonic processes. Results: Adult restoration of SynGAP protein in haploinsufficient mice reversed long-term contextual memory deficits and behavioral measures of seizure susceptibility. Moreover, SynGAP re-expression in adult mice eliminated brain state-dependent, patient-linked paroxysmal interictal spiking and increased the amplitude of hippocampal theta oscillations. Conclusions: SynGAP protein in the mature brain dynamically regulates neural circuit function and influences disease-relevant phenotypes. The impact of these findings is that treatments targeting certain debilitating aspects of SYNGAP1-related disorders may be effective throughout life. Moreover, the efficacy of experimental treatments for SYNGAP1 patients may be quantifiable through changes in species-conserved, state-dependent pathological electroencephalogram signals.

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