Innate frequency-discrimination hyperacuity in Williams-Beuren syndrome mice

Cell. 2022 Oct 13;185(21):3877-3895.e21. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2022.08.022. Epub 2022 Sep 23.


Williams-Beuren syndrome (WBS) is a rare disorder caused by hemizygous microdeletion of ∼27 contiguous genes. Despite neurodevelopmental and cognitive deficits, individuals with WBS have spared or enhanced musical and auditory abilities, potentially offering an insight into the genetic basis of auditory perception. Here, we report that the mouse models of WBS have innately enhanced frequency-discrimination acuity and improved frequency coding in the auditory cortex (ACx). Chemogenetic rescue showed frequency-discrimination hyperacuity is caused by hyperexcitable interneurons in the ACx. Haploinsufficiency of one WBS gene, Gtf2ird1, replicated WBS phenotypes by downregulating the neuropeptide receptor VIPR1. VIPR1 is reduced in the ACx of individuals with WBS and in the cerebral organoids derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells with the WBS microdeletion. Vipr1 deletion or overexpression in ACx interneurons mimicked or reversed, respectively, the cellular and behavioral phenotypes of WBS mice. Thus, the Gtf2ird1-Vipr1 mechanism in ACx interneurons may underlie the superior auditory acuity in WBS.

Keywords: Gtf2ird1; VIPR1; Williams-Beuren syndrome; auditory cortex; frequency-discrimination acuity; inhibitory interneurons.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Cortex / cytology
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells
  • Interneurons / cytology
  • Interneurons / physiology
  • Mice
  • Phenotype
  • Trans-Activators / genetics
  • Williams Syndrome / genetics
  • Williams Syndrome / physiopathology*


  • Gtf2ird1 protein, mouse
  • Trans-Activators