KDM5A mutations identified in autism spectrum disorder using forward genetics

Elife. 2020 Dec 22;9:e56883. doi: 10.7554/eLife.56883.


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a constellation of neurodevelopmental disorders with high phenotypic and genetic heterogeneity, complicating the discovery of causative genes. Through a forward genetics approach selecting for defective vocalization in mice, we identified Kdm5a as a candidate ASD gene. To validate our discovery, we generated a Kdm5a knockout mouse model (Kdm5a-/-) and confirmed that inactivating Kdm5a disrupts vocalization. In addition, Kdm5a-/- mice displayed repetitive behaviors, sociability deficits, cognitive dysfunction, and abnormal dendritic morphogenesis. Loss of KDM5A also resulted in dysregulation of the hippocampal transcriptome. To determine if KDM5A mutations cause ASD in humans, we screened whole exome sequencing and microarray data from a clinical cohort. We identified pathogenic KDM5A variants in nine patients with ASD and lack of speech. Our findings illustrate the power and efficacy of forward genetics in identifying ASD genes and highlight the importance of KDM5A in normal brain development and function.

Keywords: autism spectrum disorder; chromatin regulator; forward genetics; genetics; genomics; histone demethylase; human; medicine; mouse; vocalization.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Animals
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / genetics*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics
  • Genetic Techniques
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mutation
  • Retinoblastoma-Binding Protein 2 / genetics*


  • KDM5A protein, human
  • KDM5A protein, mouse
  • Retinoblastoma-Binding Protein 2

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE147435