Dendritic spines represent the major site of neuronal activity in the brain; they serve as the receiving point for neurotransmitters and undergo rapid activity-dependent morphological changes that correlate with learning and memory. Using a combination of homozygosity mapping and next-generation sequencing in two consanguineous families affected by nonsyndromic autosomal-recessive intellectual disability, we identified truncating mutations in formin 2 (FMN2), encoding a protein that belongs to the formin family of actin cytoskeleton nucleation factors and is highly expressed in the maturing brain. We found that FMN2 localizes to punctae along dendrites and that germline inactivation of mouse Fmn2 resulted in animals with decreased spine density; such mice were previously demonstrated to have a conditioned fear-learning defect. Furthermore, patient neural cells derived from induced pluripotent stem cells showed correlated decreased synaptic density. Thus, FMN2 mutations link intellectual disability either directly or indirectly to the regulation of actin-mediated synaptic spine density.
Copyright © 2014 The American Society of Human Genetics. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.