Loss of function of OTUD7A in the schizophrenia- associated 15q13.3 deletion impairs synapse development and function in human neurons

Am J Hum Genet. 2022 Aug 4;109(8):1500-1519. doi: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2022.07.001.


Identifying causative gene(s) within disease-associated large genomic regions of copy-number variants (CNVs) is challenging. Here, by targeted sequencing of genes within schizophrenia (SZ)-associated CNVs in 1,779 SZ cases and 1,418 controls, we identified three rare putative loss-of-function (LoF) mutations in OTU deubiquitinase 7A (OTUD7A) within the 15q13.3 deletion in cases but none in controls. To tie OTUD7A LoF with any SZ-relevant cellular phenotypes, we modeled the OTUD7A LoF mutation, rs757148409, in human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived induced excitatory neurons (iNs) by CRISPR-Cas9 engineering. The mutant iNs showed a ∼50% decrease in OTUD7A expression without undergoing nonsense-mediated mRNA decay. The mutant iNs also exhibited marked reduction of dendritic complexity, density of synaptic proteins GluA1 and PSD-95, and neuronal network activity. Congruent with the neuronal phenotypes in mutant iNs, our transcriptomic analysis showed that the set of OTUD7A LoF-downregulated genes was enriched for those relating to synapse development and function and was associated with SZ and other neuropsychiatric disorders. These results suggest that OTUD7A LoF impairs synapse development and neuronal function in human neurons, providing mechanistic insight into the possible role of OTUD7A in driving neuropsychiatric phenotypes associated with the 15q13.3 deletion.

Keywords: 15q13.3 deletion; OTUD7A; copy number; human iPSC; neurodevelopment; neuron; schizophrenia; synapse; transcriptome; variant.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • DNA Copy Number Variations
  • Humans
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells*
  • Neurons
  • Schizophrenia* / metabolism
  • Synapses / metabolism