Mitochondrial proteins encoded by the 22q11.2 neurodevelopmental locus regulate neural stem and progenitor cell proliferation

Mol Psychiatry. 2023 Sep;28(9):3769-3781. doi: 10.1038/s41380-023-02272-z. Epub 2023 Oct 4.


Microdeletion of a 3Mb region encompassing 45 protein-coding genes at chromosome 22q11.2 (22q11.2DS) predisposes individuals to multiple neurodevelopmental disorders and is one of the greatest genetic risk factors for schizophrenia. Defective mitochondrial function has been hypothesized to contribute to 22q11.2DS pathogenesis; however, which of the six mitochondrial genes contribute to neurodevelopmental phenotypes and their underlying mechanisms remain unresolved. To systematically test 22q11.2DS genes for functional roles in neurodevelopment and behavior, we generated genetic mutants for each of the 37 conserved zebrafish orthologs and performed high throughput behavioral phenotyping using seven behavioral assays. Through this unbiased approach, we identified five single-gene mutants with partially overlapping behavioral phenotypes. Two of these genes, mrpl40 and prodha, encode for mitochondrial proteins and, similar to what we observed in mrpl40 and prodha mutants, pharmacologic inhibition of mitochondrial function during development results in microcephaly. Single mutant analysis shows that both mrpl40 and prodha mutants display aberrant neural stem and progenitor cell proliferation, with each gene regulating distinct cell populations. Finally, double mutants for both mrpl40 and prodha display aggravated behavioral phenotypes and neural stem and progenitor cell analysis reveals a previously unrecognized partially redundant role for mrpl40 and prodha in regulating radial glia-like cell proliferation. Combined, our results demonstrate a critical role for mitochondrial function in neural stem and progenitor cell populations in the developing vertebrate brain and provide compelling evidence that mitochondrial dysfunction during neurodevelopment is linked to brain volume and behavioral phenotypes observed in models of 22q11.2DS.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / pathology
  • DiGeorge Syndrome* / genetics
  • DiGeorge Syndrome* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Schizophrenia* / genetics
  • Zebrafish


  • Mitochondrial Proteins