PCDH19 regulation of neural progenitor cell differentiation suggests asynchrony of neurogenesis as a mechanism contributing to PCDH19 Girls Clustering Epilepsy

Neurobiol Dis. 2018 Aug;116:106-119. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2018.05.004. Epub 2018 May 12.


PCDH19-Girls Clustering Epilepsy (PCDH19-GCE) is a childhood epileptic encephalopathy characterised by a spectrum of neurodevelopmental problems. PCDH19-GCE is caused by heterozygous loss-of-function mutations in the X-chromosome gene, Protocadherin 19 (PCDH19) encoding a cell-cell adhesion molecule. Intriguingly, hemizygous males are generally unaffected. As PCDH19 is subjected to random X-inactivation, heterozygous females are comprised of a mosaic of cells expressing either the normal or mutant allele, which is thought to drive pathology. Despite being the second most prevalent monogeneic cause of epilepsy, little is known about the role of PCDH19 in brain development. In this study we show that PCDH19 is highly expressed in human neural stem and progenitor cells (NSPCs) and investigate its function in vitro in these cells of both mouse and human origin. Transcriptomic analysis of mouse NSPCs lacking Pcdh19 revealed changes to genes involved in regulation of neuronal differentiation, and we subsequently show that loss of Pcdh19 causes increased NSPC neurogenesis. We reprogramed human fibroblast cells harbouring a pathogenic PCDH19 mutation into human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC) and employed neural differentiation of these to extend our studies into human NSPCs. As in mouse, loss of PCDH19 function caused increased neurogenesis, and furthermore, we show this is associated with a loss of human NSPC polarity. Overall our data suggests a conserved role for PCDH19 in regulating mammalian cortical neurogenesis and has implications for the pathogenesis of PCDH19-GCE. We propose that the difference in timing or "heterochrony" of neuronal cell production originating from PCDH19 wildtype and mutant NSPCs within the same individual may lead to downstream asynchronies and abnormalities in neuronal network formation, which in-part predispose the individual to network dysfunction and epileptic activity.

Keywords: Epilepsy; Induced pluripotent stem cells; Neural stem and progenitor cells; Neurogenesis; PCDH19; Polarity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cadherins / biosynthesis*
  • Cadherins / genetics
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Epilepsy / metabolism*
  • Epilepsy / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells / pathology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neural Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Neural Stem Cells / pathology
  • Neurogenesis / physiology*
  • Protocadherins


  • Cadherins
  • PCDH19 protein, human
  • Protocadherins