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Maternal immune activation increases the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders. Elevated cytokines, such as interferon-γ (IFN-γ), in offspring's brains play a central role. IFN-γ activates an antiviral cellular state, limiting viral entry and replication. Moreover, IFN-γ is implicated in brain development. We tested the hypothesis that IFN-γ signaling contributes to molecular and cellular phenotypes associated with neurodevelopmental disorders. Transient IFN-γ treatment of neural progenitors derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells increased neurite outgrowth. RNA sequencing analysis revealed that major histocompatibility complex class I (MHCI) genes were persistently up-regulated through neuronal differentiation-an effect that was mediated by IFN-γ-induced promyelocytic leukemia protein (PML) nuclear bodies. Critically, IFN-γ-induced neurite outgrowth required both PML and MHCI. We also found evidence that IFN-γ disproportionately altered the expression of genes associated with schizophrenia and autism, suggesting convergence between genetic and environmental risk factors. Together, these data implicate IFN-γ signaling in neurodevelopmental disorder etiology.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereaay9506
JournalScience Advances
Issue number34
Early online date19 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


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