Copy number variants, such as duplications and hemizygous deletions at chromosomal loci of up to a few million base pairs, are highly associated with psychiatric disorders. Hemizygous deletions at human chromosome 22q11.2 were found to be associated with elevated instances of schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorder in 1992 and 2002, respectively. Following these discoveries, many mouse models have been developed and tested to analyze the effects of gene dose alterations in small chromosomal segments and single genes of 22q11.2. Despite several limitations to modeling mental illness in mice, mouse models have identified several genes on 22q11.2-Tbx1, Dgcr8, Comt, Sept5, and Prodh-that contribute to dimensions of autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia, including working memory, social communication and interaction, and sensorimotor gating. Mouse studies have identified that heterozygous deletion of Tbx1 results in defective social communication during the neonatal period and social interaction deficits during adolescence/adulthood. Overexpression of Tbx1 or Comt in adult neural progenitor cells in the hippocampus delays the developmental maturation of working memory capacity. Collectively, mouse models of variants of these 4 genes have revealed several potential neuronal mechanisms underlying various aspects of psychiatric disorders, including adult neurogenesis, microRNA processing, catecholamine metabolism, and synaptic transmission. The validity of the mouse data would be ultimately tested when therapies or drugs based on such potential mechanisms are applied to humans.
Keywords: 22q11.2; ASD; CNV; intellectual disability; mouse model; schizophrenia.
© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of CINP.