Expression of Genes in the 16p11.2 Locus during Development of the Human Fetal Cerebral Cortex

Cereb Cortex. 2021 Jul 29;31(9):4038-4052. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhab067.


The 593 kbp 16p11.2 copy number variation (CNV) affects the gene dosage of 29 protein coding genes, with heterozygous 16p11.2 microduplication or microdeletion implicated in about 1% of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) cases. The 16p11.2 CNV is frequently associated with macrocephaly or microcephaly indicating early defects of neurogenesis may contribute to subsequent ASD symptoms, but it is unknown which 16p11.2 transcripts are expressed in progenitors and whose levels are likely, therefore, to influence neurogenesis. Analysis of human fetal gene expression data revealed that KIF22, ALDOA, HIRIP3, PAGR1, and MAZ transcripts are expressed in neural progenitors with ALDOA and KIF22 significantly enriched compared to post-mitotic cells. To investigate the possible roles of ALDOA and KIF22 proteins in human cerebral cortex development we used immunohistochemical staining to describe their expression in late first and early second trimester human cerebral cortex. KIF22 protein is restricted to proliferating cells with its levels increasing during the cell cycle and peaking at mitosis. ALDOA protein is expressed in all cell types and does not vary with cell-cycle phase. Our expression analysis suggests the hypothesis that altered neurogenesis in the cerebral cortex contributes to ASD in 16p11.2 CNV patients.

Keywords: ALDOA; CNV; KIF22; autism; cerebral cortex.