Mutations in Vps15 perturb neuronal migration in mice and are associated with neurodevelopmental disease in humans

Nat Neurosci. 2018 Feb;21(2):207-217. doi: 10.1038/s41593-017-0053-5. Epub 2018 Jan 8.


The formation of the vertebrate brain requires the generation, migration, differentiation and survival of neurons. Genetic mutations that perturb these critical cellular events can result in malformations of the telencephalon, providing a molecular window into brain development. Here we report the identification of an N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea-induced mouse mutant characterized by a fractured hippocampal pyramidal cell layer, attributable to defects in neuronal migration. We show that this is caused by a hypomorphic mutation in Vps15 that perturbs endosomal-lysosomal trafficking and autophagy, resulting in an upregulation of Nischarin, which inhibits Pak1 signaling. The complete ablation of Vps15 results in the accumulation of autophagic substrates, the induction of apoptosis and severe cortical atrophy. Finally, we report that mutations in VPS15 are associated with cortical atrophy and epilepsy in humans. These data highlight the importance of the Vps15-Vps34 complex and the Nischarin-Pak1 signaling hub in the development of the telencephalon.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alkylating Agents / toxicity
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Atrophy / chemically induced
  • Atrophy / genetics
  • Atrophy / pathology
  • Autophagy / drug effects
  • Autophagy / genetics
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / pathology
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Cell Movement / genetics*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Embryo, Mammalian
  • Ethylnitrosourea / toxicity
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / drug effects*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / genetics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Mutation / drug effects*
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders* / chemically induced
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders* / diagnostic imaging
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders* / genetics
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders* / pathology
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / pathology*
  • Neurons / ultrastructure
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Vacuolar Proton-Translocating ATPases / drug effects
  • Vacuolar Proton-Translocating ATPases / genetics*


  • Alkylating Agents
  • Vacuolar Proton-Translocating ATPases
  • Vps50 protein, mouse
  • Ethylnitrosourea