Dysregulation of synaptic and developmental transcriptomic/proteomic profiles upon depletion of MUNC18-1

eNeuro. 2022 Oct 14;9(6):ENEURO.0186-22.2022. doi: 10.1523/ENEURO.0186-22.2022. Online ahead of print.


Absence of presynaptic protein MUNC18-1 (gene: Stxbp1) leads to neuronal cell death at an immature stage before synapse formation. Here, we performed transcriptomic and proteomic profiling of immature Stxbp1 knockout (KO) cells to discover which cellular processes depend on MUNC18-1. Hippocampi of Stxbp1 KO mice showed cell-type specific dysregulation of 2123 transcripts primarily related to synaptic transmission and immune response. To further investigate direct, neuron-specific effects of MUNC18-1 depletion, a proteomic screen was performed on murine neuronal cultures at two developmental timepoints prior to onset of neuron degeneration. 399 proteins were differentially expressed, which were primarily involved in synaptic function (especially synaptic vesicle exocytosis) and neuron development. We further show that many of the downregulated proteins upon loss of MUNC18-1 are normally upregulated during this developmental stage. Thus, absence of MUNC18-1 extensively dysregulates the transcriptome and proteome, primarily affecting synaptic and developmental profiles. Lack of synaptic activity is unlikely to underlie these effects, as the changes were observed in immature neurons without functional synapses, and minimal overlap was found to activity-dependent proteins. We hypothesize that presence of MUNC18-1 is essential to advance neuron development, serving as a 'checkpoint' for neurons to initiate cell death in its absence.Significance StatementPresynaptic protein MUNC18-1 is essential for neuronal functioning. Pathogenic variants in its gene, STXBP1, are among the most common found in patients with developmental delay and epilepsy. To discern the pathogenesis in these patients, a thorough understanding of MUNC18-1's function in neurons is required. Here, we show that loss of MUNC18-1 results in extensive dysregulation of synaptic and developmental proteins in immature neurons before synapse formation. Many of the downregulated proteins are normally upregulated during this developmental stage. This indicates that MUNC18-1 is a critical regulator of neuronal development, which could play an important role in the pathogenesis of STXBP1 variant carriers.

Keywords: MUNC18-1; Neurodegeneration; Neurodevelopment; Proteomics; Synapse; Transcriptomics.