Overexpression of CD47 is associated with brain overgrowth and 16p11.2 deletion syndrome

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Apr 13;118(15):e2005483118. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2005483118.


Copy number variation (CNV) at the 16p11.2 locus is associated with neuropsychiatric disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia. CNVs of the 16p gene can manifest in opposing head sizes. Carriers of 16p11.2 deletion tend to have macrocephaly (or brain enlargement), while those with 16p11.2 duplication frequently have microcephaly. Increases in both gray and white matter volume have been observed in brain imaging studies in 16p11.2 deletion carriers with macrocephaly. Here, we use human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) derived from controls and subjects with 16p11.2 deletion and 16p11.2 duplication to understand the underlying mechanisms regulating brain overgrowth. To model both gray and white matter, we differentiated patient-derived iPSCs into neural progenitor cells (NPCs) and oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs). In both NPCs and OPCs, we show that CD47 (a "don't eat me" signal) is overexpressed in the 16p11.2 deletion carriers contributing to reduced phagocytosis both in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, 16p11.2 deletion NPCs and OPCs up-regulate cell surface expression of calreticulin (a prophagocytic "eat me" signal) and its binding sites, indicating that these cells should be phagocytosed but fail to be eliminated due to elevations in CD47. Treatment of 16p11.2 deletion NPCs and OPCs with an anti-CD47 antibody to block CD47 restores phagocytosis to control levels. While the CD47 pathway is commonly implicated in cancer progression, we document a role for CD47 in psychiatric disorders associated with brain overgrowth.

Keywords: 16p11.2 deletion; CD47; iPSCs; macrocephaly.