Neuronal transcription of autism gene PTCHD1 is regulated by a conserved downstream enhancer sequence

Sci Rep. 2023 Nov 21;13(1):20391. doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-46673-0.


Patched domain-containing 1 (PTCHD1) is a well-established susceptibility gene for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and intellectual disability (ID). Previous studies have suggested that alterations in the dosage of PTCHD1 may contribute to the etiology of both ASD and ID. However, there has not yet been a thorough investigation regarding mechanisms that regulate PTCHD1 expression. We sought to characterize the Ptchd1 promoter in a mouse neuronal model, as well as to identify and validate cis regulatory elements. We defined specific regions of the Ptchd1 promoter essential for robust expression in P19-induced neurons. Evolutionarily-conserved putative transcription factor binding sites within these regions were subsequently identified. Using a pairwise comparison of chromatin accessibility between mouse forebrain and liver tissues, a candidate regulatory region, ~ 9.1 kbp downstream of the Ptchd1 stop codon was defined. This region harbours two ENCODE-predicted enhancer cis-regulatory elements. Further, using DNase footprint analysis, a putative YY1-binding motif was also identified. Genomic deletion of the entire 8 kbp downstream open chromatin region attenuated Ptchd1 transcription by over 60% in our neuronal model, corroborating its predicted regulatory function. This study provides mechanistic insights related to the expression of PTCHD1, and provides important context to interpret genetic and genomic variation at this locus which may influence neurodevelopment.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / genetics
  • Autistic Disorder* / genetics
  • Chromatin / genetics
  • Conserved Sequence
  • Enhancer Elements, Genetic
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Neurons / metabolism


  • Membrane Proteins
  • Chromatin
  • Ptchd1 protein, mouse

Grants and funding