Verification and rectification of cell type-specific splicing of a Seckel syndrome-associated ATR mutation using iPS cell model

J Hum Genet. 2019 May;64(5):445-458. doi: 10.1038/s10038-019-0574-8. Epub 2019 Mar 8.


Seckel syndrome (SS) is a rare spectrum of congenital severe microcephaly and dwarfism. One SS-causative gene is Ataxia Telangiectasia and Rad3-Related Protein (ATR), and ATR (c.2101 A>G) mutation causes skipping of exon 9, resulting in a hypomorphic ATR defect. This mutation is considered the cause of an impaired response to DNA replication stress, the main function of ATR, contributing to the pathogenesis of microcephaly. However, the precise behavior and impact of this splicing defect in human neural progenitor cells (NPCs) is unclear. To address this, we established induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from fibroblasts carrying the ATR mutation and an isogenic ATR-corrected counterpart iPSC clone. SS-patient-derived iPSCs (SS-iPSCs) exhibited cell type-specific splicing; exon 9 was dominantly skipped in fibroblasts and iPSC-derived NPCs, but it was included in undifferentiated iPSCs and definitive endodermal cells. SS-iPSC-derived NPCs (SS-NPCs) showed distinct expression profiles from ATR non-mutated NPCs with negative enrichment of neuronal genesis-related gene sets. In SS-NPCs, abnormal mitotic spindles occurred more frequently than in gene-corrected counterparts, and the alignment of NPCs in the surface of the neurospheres was perturbed. Finally, we tested several splicing-modifying compounds and found that TG003, a CLK1 inhibitor, could pharmacologically rescue the exon 9 skipping in SS-NPCs. Treatment with TG003 restored the ATR kinase activity in SS-NPCs and decreased the frequency of abnormal mitotic events. In conclusion, our iPSC model revealed a novel effect of the ATR mutation in mitotic processes of NPCs and NPC-specific missplicing, accompanied by the recovery of neuronal defects using a splicing rectifier.

MeSH terms

  • Alternative Splicing*
  • Ataxia Telangiectasia Mutated Proteins* / biosynthesis
  • Ataxia Telangiectasia Mutated Proteins* / genetics
  • Cell Line
  • Dwarfism* / enzymology
  • Dwarfism* / genetics
  • Dwarfism* / pathology
  • Facies*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells* / enzymology
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells* / pathology
  • Male
  • Microcephaly* / enzymology
  • Microcephaly* / genetics
  • Microcephaly* / pathology
  • Models, Biological*
  • Mutation*


  • ATR protein, human
  • Ataxia Telangiectasia Mutated Proteins

Supplementary concepts

  • Seckel syndrome 1