Effects of a patient-derived de novo coding alteration of CACNA1I in mice connect a schizophrenia risk gene with sleep spindle deficits

Transl Psychiatry. 2020 Jan 23;10(1):29. doi: 10.1038/s41398-020-0685-1.


CACNA1I, a schizophrenia risk gene, encodes a subtype of voltage-gated T-type calcium channel CaV3.3. We previously reported that a patient-derived missense de novo mutation (R1346H) of CACNA1I impaired CaV3.3 channel function. Here, we generated CaV3.3-RH knock-in animals, along with mice lacking CaV3.3, to investigate the biological impact of R1346H (RH) variation. We found that RH mutation altered cellular excitability in the thalamic reticular nucleus (TRN), where CaV3.3 is abundantly expressed. Moreover, RH mutation produced marked deficits in sleep spindle occurrence and morphology throughout non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, while CaV3.3 haploinsufficiency gave rise to largely normal spindles. Therefore, mice harboring the RH mutation provide a patient derived genetic model not only to dissect the spindle biology but also to evaluate the effects of pharmacological reagents in normalizing sleep spindle deficits. Importantly, our analyses highlighted the significance of characterizing individual spindles and strengthen the inferences we can make across species over sleep spindles. In conclusion, this study established a translational link between a genetic allele and spindle deficits during NREM observed in schizophrenia patients, representing a key step toward testing the hypothesis that normalizing spindles may be beneficial for schizophrenia patients.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium Channels, T-Type*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Schizophrenia* / genetics
  • Sleep
  • Sleep, REM


  • CACNA1I protein, human
  • Calcium Channels, T-Type

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