The pathophysiology of neurodevelopmental disorders is often observed early in infancy and toddlerhood. Mouse models of syndromic disorders have provided insight regarding mechanisms of action, but most studies have focused on characterization in juveniles and adults. Insight into developmental trajectories, particularly those related to circuit and synaptic function, will likely yield important information regarding disorder pathogenesis that leads to symptom progression. Chromosome 16p11.2 microdeletion is one of the most common copy number variations associated with a spectrum of neurodevelopmental disorders. Yet, how haploinsufficiency of chr16p11.2 affects early synaptic maturation and function is unknown. To address this knowledge gap, the present study focused on three key components of circuit formation and function, basal synaptic transmission, local circuit function, and maturation of glutamatergic synapses, in developing hippocampal CA1 neurons in a chr16p11.2 microdeletion mouse model. The data demonstrate increased excitability, imbalance in excitation and inhibition, and accelerated maturation of glutamatergic synapses in heterozygous deletion mutant CA1 neurons. Given the critical role of early synaptic development in shaping neuronal connectivity and circuitry formation, these newly identified synaptic abnormalities in chr16p11.2 microdeletion mice may contribute to altered developmental trajectory and function of the developing brain. NEW & NOTEWORTHY The synaptic pathophysiology underlying neurodevelopmental disorders often emerges during infancy and toddlerhood. Therefore, identifying initial changes in synaptic function is crucial for gaining a mechanistic understanding of the pathophysiology, which ultimately will facilitate the design of early interventions. Here, we investigated synaptic and local circuit properties of hippocampal CA1 neurons in a human chr16p11.2 microdeletion mouse model during early postnatal development (preweaning). The data demonstrate increased neuronal excitability, excitatory/inhibitory imbalance, and accelerated maturation of glutamatergic synapses. These perturbations in early hippocampal circuit function may underlie the early pathogenesis of the heterozygous chr16p11.2 microdeletion, which is often associated with epilepsy and intellectual disability.
Keywords: chr16p11.2 microdeletion; excitation/inhibition; glutamatergic synapse; hippocampus CA1; silent synapse.