Pten haploinsufficiency disrupts scaling across brain areas during development in mice

Transl Psychiatry. 2019 Dec 5;9(1):329. doi: 10.1038/s41398-019-0656-6.


Haploinsufficiency for PTEN is a cause of autism spectrum disorder and brain overgrowth; however, it is not known if PTEN mutations disrupt scaling across brain areas during development. To address this question, we used magnetic resonance imaging to analyze brains of male Pten haploinsufficient (Pten+/-) mice and wild-type littermates during early postnatal development and adulthood. Adult Pten+/- mice display a consistent pattern of abnormal scaling across brain areas, with white matter (WM) areas being particularly affected. This regional and WM enlargement recapitulates structural abnormalities found in individuals with PTEN haploinsufficiency and autism. Early postnatal Pten+/- mice do not display the same pattern, instead exhibiting greater variability across mice and brain regions than controls. This suggests that Pten haploinsufficiency may desynchronize growth across brain regions during early development before stabilizing by maturity. Pten+/- cortical cultures display increased proliferation of glial cell populations, indicating a potential substrate of WM enlargement, and provide a platform for testing candidate therapeutics. Pten haploinsufficiency dysregulates coordinated growth across brain regions during development. This results in abnormally scaled brain areas and associated behavioral deficits, potentially explaining the relationship between PTEN mutations and neurodevelopmental disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / genetics
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / pathology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cerebral Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Cortex / growth & development*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Haploinsufficiency
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, 129 Strain
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase / genetics
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase / physiology*
  • White Matter / diagnostic imaging
  • White Matter / growth & development*


  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase
  • Pten protein, mouse