Developmental defects and impaired network excitability in a cerebral organoid model of KCNJ11 p.V59M-related neonatal diabetes

Sci Rep. 2021 Nov 3;11(1):21590. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-00939-7.


The gene KCNJ11 encodes Kir6.2 a major subunit of the ATP-sensitive potassium channel (KATP) expressed in both the pancreas and brain. Heterozygous gain of function mutations in KCNJ11 can cause neonatal diabetes mellitus (NDM). In addition, many patients exhibit neurological defects ranging from modest learning disorders to severe cognitive dysfunction and seizures. However, it remains unclear to what extent these neurological deficits are due to direct brain-specific activity of mutant KATP. We have generated cerebral organoids derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) possessing the KCNJ11 mutation p.Val59Met (V59M) and from non-pathogenic/normal hiPSCs (i.e., control/WT). Control cerebral organoids developed neural networks that could generate stable synchronized bursting neuronal activity whereas those derived from V59M cerebral organoids showed reduced synchronization. Histocytochemical studies revealed a marked reduction in neurons localized to upper cortical layer-like structures in V59M cerebral organoids suggesting dysfunction in the development of cortical neuronal network. Examination of temporal transcriptional profiles of neural stem cell markers revealed an extended window of SOX2 expression in V59M cerebral organoids. Continuous treatment of V59M cerebral organoids with the KATP blocker tolbutamide partially rescued the neurodevelopmental differences. Our study demonstrates the utility of human cerebral organoids as an investigative platform for studying the effects of KCNJ11 mutations on neurophysiological outcome.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Diabetes Mellitus / metabolism
  • Electrophysiology
  • Female
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells / cytology
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / genetics
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / cytology
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Nerve Net
  • Neural Pathways
  • Organoids / metabolism*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying / genetics*
  • Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying / metabolism


  • Kir6.2 channel
  • Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying