TAF1-gene editing alters the morphology and function of the cerebellum
Abstract TAF1/MRSX33 intellectual disability syndrome is an X-linked disorder caused by loss-of-function mutations in the TAF1 gene. How these mutations cause dysmorphology, hypotonia, intellectual and motor defects is unknown. Mouse models which have embryonically targeted TAF1 have failed, possibly due to TAF1 being essential for viability, preferentially expressed in early brain development, and intolerant of mutation. Novel animal models are valuable tools for understanding neuronal pathology. Here, we report the development and characterization of a novel animal model for TAF1 ID syndrome in which the TAF1 gene is deleted in embryonic rats using clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) associated protein 9 (Cas9) technology and somatic brain transgenesis mediated by lentiviral transduction. Rat pups, post-natal day 3, were subjected to intracerebroventricular (ICV) injection of either gRNA-control or gRNA-TAF1 vectors. Rats were subjected to a battery of behavioral tests followed by histopathological analyses of brains at post-natal day 14 and day 35. TAF1 -edited rats exhibited behavioral deficits at both the neonatal and juvenile stages of development. Deletion of TAF1 lead to a hypoplasia and loss of the Purkinje cells. We also observed a decreased in GFAP positive astrocytes and an increase in Iba1 positive microglia within the granular layer of the cerebellum in TAF1-edited animals. Immunostaining revealed a reduction in the expression of the CaV3.1 T-type calcium channel. Abnormal motor symptoms in TAF1-edited rats were associated with irregular cerebellar output caused by changes in the intrinsic activity of the Purkinje cells due to loss of pre-synaptic CaV3.1. This animal model provides a powerful new tool for studies of neuronal dysfunction in conditions associated with TAF1 abnormalities and should prove useful for developing therapeutic strategies to treat TAF1 ID syndrome.