The role of ARID1B, a BAF chromatin remodeling complex subunit, in neural development and behavior

Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2019 Mar 8:89:30-38. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2018.08.021. Epub 2018 Aug 24.


Haploinsufficiency of the chromatin remodeling factor ARID1B leads to autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability. Several independent research groups, including our own, recently examined the effects of heterozygous deletion of Arid1b in mice and reported severe behavioral abnormalities reminiscent of autism spectrum disorders and intellectual disability as well as marked changes in gene expression and decreased body size. Arid1b heterozygous mice also display significant cortical excitatory/inhibitory imbalance due to altered GABAergic neuron numbers and impaired inhibitory synaptic transmission. Abnormal epigenetic modifications, including histone acetylation and methylation, are additionally associated with Arid1b haploinsufficiency in the brain. Treating adult Arid1b mutant mice with a positive GABA allosteric modulator, however, rescues multiple behavioral abnormalities, such as cognitive and social impairments, as well as elevated anxiety. While treating Arid1b haploinsufficient mice with recombinant mouse growth hormone successfully increases body size, it has no effect on aberrant behavior. Here we summarize the recent findings regarding the role of ARID1B in brain development and behavior and discuss the utility of the Arid1b heterozygous mouse model in neurodevelopmental and psychiatric research. We also discuss some of the opportunities and potential challenges in developing translational applications for humans and possible avenues for further research into the mechanisms of ARID1B pathology in the brain.

Keywords: ARID1B; Autism; Brain development; GABA intervention; Intellectual disability; Interneuron; Neural progenitor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior / physiology*
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / genetics
  • Mental Disorders / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Transcription Factors