CHD8 haploinsufficiency links autism to transient alterations in excitatory and inhibitory trajectories

Cell Rep. 2022 Apr 5;39(1):110615. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2022.110615.


Mutations in the chromodomain helicase DNA-binding 8 (CHD8) gene are a frequent cause of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). While its phenotypic spectrum often encompasses macrocephaly, implicating cortical abnormalities, how CHD8 haploinsufficiency affects neurodevelopmental is unclear. Here, employing human cerebral organoids, we find that CHD8 haploinsufficiency disrupted neurodevelopmental trajectories with an accelerated and delayed generation of, respectively, inhibitory and excitatory neurons that yields, at days 60 and 120, symmetrically opposite expansions in their proportions. This imbalance is consistent with an enlargement of cerebral organoids as an in vitro correlate of patients' macrocephaly. Through an isogenic design of patient-specific mutations and mosaic organoids, we define genotype-phenotype relationships and uncover their cell-autonomous nature. Our results define cell-type-specific CHD8-dependent molecular defects related to an abnormal program of proliferation and alternative splicing. By identifying cell-type-specific effects of CHD8 mutations, our study uncovers reproducible developmental alterations that may be employed for neurodevelopmental disease modeling.

Keywords: ASD; CHD8 happloinsufficiency; CP: Neuroscience; CP: Stem cell research; cerebral organoids; macrocephaly; proliferation; scRNA-seq.

MeSH terms

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / genetics
  • Autistic Disorder* / genetics
  • DNA Helicases / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Haploinsufficiency / genetics
  • Humans
  • Megalencephaly* / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / genetics


  • CHD8 protein, human
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • DNA Helicases