Dissecting the molecular basis of human interneuron migration in forebrain assembloids from Timothy syndrome

Cell Stem Cell. 2022 Feb 3;29(2):248-264.e7. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2021.11.011. Epub 2022 Jan 5.


Defects in interneuron migration can disrupt the assembly of cortical circuits and lead to neuropsychiatric disease. Using forebrain assembloids derived by integration of cortical and ventral forebrain organoids, we have previously discovered a cortical interneuron migration defect in Timothy syndrome (TS), a severe neurodevelopmental disease caused by a mutation in the L-type calcium channel (LTCC) Cav1.2. Here, we find that acute pharmacological modulation of Cav1.2 can regulate the saltation length, but not the frequency, of interneuron migration in TS. Interestingly, the defect in saltation length is related to aberrant actomyosin and myosin light chain (MLC) phosphorylation, while the defect in saltation frequency is driven by enhanced γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) sensitivity and can be restored by GABA-A receptor antagonism. Finally, we describe hypersynchronous hCS network activity in TS that is exacerbated by interneuron migration. Taken together, these studies reveal a complex role of LTCC function in human cortical interneuron migration and strategies to restore deficits in the context of disease.

Keywords: GABA; Timothy syndrome; assembloids; calcium; interneurons; organoids.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder*
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Cerebral Cortex
  • Humans
  • Interneurons / physiology
  • Long QT Syndrome
  • Prosencephalon
  • Syndactyly* / genetics

Supplementary concepts

  • Timothy syndrome