Defects in brain development are believed to contribute toward the onset of neuropsychiatric disorders, but identifying specific underlying mechanisms has proven difficult. Here, we took a multifaceted approach to investigate why 15q11.2 copy number variants are prominent risk factors for schizophrenia and autism. First, we show that human iPSC-derived neural progenitors carrying 15q11.2 microdeletion exhibit deficits in adherens junctions and apical polarity. This results from haploinsufficiency of CYFIP1, a gene within 15q11.2 that encodes a subunit of the WAVE complex, which regulates cytoskeletal dynamics. In developing mouse cortex, deficiency in CYFIP1 and WAVE signaling similarly affects radial glial cells, leading to their ectopic localization outside of the ventricular zone. Finally, targeted human genetic association analyses revealed an epistatic interaction between CYFIP1 and WAVE signaling mediator ACTR2 and risk for schizophrenia. Our findings provide insight into how CYFIP1 regulates neural stem cell function and may contribute to the susceptibility of neuropsychiatric disorders.
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