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Altered Neocortical Gene Expression, Brain Overgrowth and Functional Over-Connectivity in Chd8 Haploinsufficient Mice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Philipp Suetterlin, Shaun Hurley, Conor Mohan, Kimberley L H Riegman, Marco Pagani, Angela Caruso, Jacob Ellegood, Alberto Galbusera, Ivan Crespo-Enriquez, Caterina Michetti, Yohan Yee, Robert Ellingford, Olivier Brock, Alessio Delogu, Philippa Francis-West, Jason P Lerch, Maria Luisa Scattoni, Alessandro Gozzi, Cathy Fernandes, M Albert Basson

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2192–2206
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number6
Early online date13 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


King's Authors


Truncating CHD8 mutations are amongst the highest confidence risk factors for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) identified to date. Here, we report that Chd8 heterozygous mice display increased brain size, motor delay, hypertelorism, pronounced hypoactivity and anomalous responses to social stimuli. Whereas gene expression in the neocortex is only mildly affected at mid-gestation, over 600 genes are differentially expressed in the early postnatal neocortex. Genes involved in cell adhesion and axon guidance are particularly prominent amongst the down-regulated transcripts. Resting-state functional MRI identified
increased synchronised activity in cortico-hippocampal and auditory-parietal networks in Chd8 heterozygous mutant mice, implicating altered connectivity as a potential mechanism underlying the behavioural phenotypes. Together, these data suggest that altered brain growth and diminished expression of important neurodevelopmental genes that regulate longrange brain wiring are followed by distinctive anomalies in functional brain connectivity in Chd8+/- mice. Human imaging studies have reported altered functional connectivity in ASD
patients, with long-range under-connectivity seemingly more frequent. Our data suggest that CHD8 haploinsufficiency represents a specific subtype of ASD where neuropsychiatric symptoms are underpinned by long-range over-connectivity.

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