Mutations in C9orf72 are the most common genetic cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Accumulating evidence implicates astrocytes as important non-cell autonomous contributors to ALS pathogenesis, although the potential deleterious effects of astrocytes on the function of motor neurons remains to be determined in a completely humanized model of C9orf72-mediated ALS. Here, we use a human iPSC-based model to study the cell autonomous and non-autonomous consequences of mutant C9orf72 expression by astrocytes. We show that mutant astrocytes both recapitulate key aspects of C9orf72-related ALS pathology and, upon co-culture, cause motor neurons to undergo a progressive loss of action potential output due to decreases in the magnitude of voltage-activated Na+ and K+ currents. Importantly, CRISPR/Cas-9 mediated excision of the C9orf72 repeat expansion reverses these phenotypes, confirming that the C9orf72 mutation is responsible for both cell-autonomous astrocyte pathology and non-cell autonomous motor neuron pathophysiology.
- motor neuron
- non-cell autonomous