The autism and schizophrenia associated gene CYFIP1 is critical for the maintenance of dendritic complexity and the stabilization of mature spines

Transl Psychiatry. 2014 Mar 25;4(3):e374. doi: 10.1038/tp.2014.16.


Copy number variation (CNV) at the 15q11.2 region has been identified as a significant risk locus for neurological and neuropsychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia (SCZ) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, the individual roles for genes at this locus in nervous system development, function and connectivity remain poorly understood. Haploinsufficiency of one gene in this region, Cyfip1, may provide a model for 15q11.2 CNV-associated neuropsychiatric phenotypes. Here we show that altering CYFIP1 expression levels in neurons both in vitro and in vivo influences dendritic complexity, spine morphology, spine actin dynamics and synaptic α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) receptor lateral diffusion. CYFIP1 is highly enriched at synapses and its overexpression in vitro leads to increased dendritic complexity. Neurons derived from Cyfip1 heterozygous animals on the other hand, possess reduced dendritic complexity, increased mobile F-actin and enhanced GluA2-containing AMPA receptor mobility at synapses. Interestingly, Cyfip1 overexpression or haploinsufficiency increased immature spine number, whereas activity-dependent changes in spine volume were occluded in Cyfip1 haploinsufficient neurons. In vivo, Cyfip1 heterozygous animals exhibited deficits in dendritic complexity as well as an altered ratio of immature-to-mature spines in hippocampal CA1 neurons. In summary, we provide evidence that dysregulation of CYFIP1 expression levels leads to pathological changes in CNS maturation and neuronal connectivity, both of which may contribute to the development of the neurological symptoms seen in ASD and SCZ.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Animals
  • CA1 Region, Hippocampal / metabolism
  • CA1 Region, Hippocampal / pathology*
  • Dendrites / metabolism
  • Dendrites / pathology*
  • Embryo, Mammalian
  • Haploinsufficiency / genetics*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics*
  • Rats


  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Cyfip1 protein, mouse
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins