RTTN mutations link primary cilia function to organization of the human cerebral cortex

Am J Hum Genet. 2012 Sep 7;91(3):533-40. doi: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2012.07.008. Epub 2012 Aug 30.


Polymicrogyria is a malformation of the developing cerebral cortex caused by abnormal organization and characterized by many small gyri and fusion of the outer molecular layer. We have identified autosomal-recessive mutations in RTTN, encoding Rotatin, in individuals with bilateral diffuse polymicrogyria from two separate families. Rotatin determines early embryonic axial rotation, as well as anteroposterior and dorsoventral patterning in the mouse. Human Rotatin has recently been identified as a centrosome-associated protein. The Drosophila melanogaster homolog of Rotatin, Ana3, is needed for structural integrity of centrioles and basal bodies and maintenance of sensory neurons. We show that Rotatin colocalizes with the basal bodies at the primary cilium. Cultured fibroblasts from affected individuals have structural abnormalities of the cilia and exhibit downregulation of BMP4, WNT5A, and WNT2B, which are key regulators of cortical patterning and are expressed at the cortical hem, the cortex-organizing center that gives rise to Cajal-Retzius (CR) neurons. Interestingly, we have shown that in mouse embryos, Rotatin colocalizes with CR neurons at the subpial marginal zone. Knockdown experiments in human fibroblasts and neural stem cells confirm a role for RTTN in cilia structure and function. RTTN mutations therefore link aberrant ciliary function to abnormal development and organization of the cortex in human individuals.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics*
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Cell Line
  • Cerebral Cortex / embryology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Child
  • Cilia / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gene Knockout Techniques
  • Genes, Recessive
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Malformations of Cortical Development / diagnosis
  • Malformations of Cortical Development / genetics*
  • Mutation


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • RTTN protein, human