Psychiatric Risk Gene Transcription Factor 4 Regulates Intrinsic Excitability of Prefrontal Neurons via Repression of SCN10a and KCNQ1

Neuron. 2016 Apr 6;90(1):43-55. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2016.02.021. Epub 2016 Mar 10.


Transcription Factor 4 (TCF4) is a clinically pleiotropic gene associated with schizophrenia and Pitt-Hopkins syndrome (PTHS). To gain insight about the neurobiology of TCF4, we created an in vivo model of PTHS by suppressing Tcf4 expression in rat prefrontal neurons immediately prior to neurogenesis. This cell-autonomous genetic insult attenuated neuronal spiking by increasing the afterhyperpolarization. At the molecular level, using a novel technique called iTRAP that combined in utero electroporation and translating ribosome affinity purification, we identified increased translation of two ion channel genes, Kcnq1 and Scn10a. These ion channel candidates were validated by pharmacological rescue and molecular phenocopy. Remarkably, similar excitability deficits were observed in prefrontal neurons from a Tcf4(+/tr) mouse model of PTHS. Thus, we identify TCF4 as a regulator of neuronal intrinsic excitability in part by repression of Kcnq1 and Scn10a and suggest that this molecular function may underlie pathophysiology associated with neuropsychiatric disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • CRISPR-Cas Systems
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Electroporation
  • Facies
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Haploinsufficiency
  • Hyperventilation / genetics*
  • Intellectual Disability / genetics*
  • KCNQ1 Potassium Channel / genetics*
  • Mice
  • NAV1.8 Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel / genetics*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Prefrontal Cortex / embryology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / metabolism*
  • Pregnancy
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Schizophrenia / genetics
  • Transcription Factor 4
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • KCNQ1 Potassium Channel
  • NAV1.8 Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Tcf4 protein, mouse
  • Tcf4 protein, rat
  • Transcription Factor 4
  • Transcription Factors

Supplementary concepts

  • Pitt-Hopkins syndrome