16p11.2 Microduplication is Associated with Lobule-Specific Abnormalities in Cerebellar Structure and Function

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Hayes, C.; Halverson, H.; Keeran, K.; Tison, K.; Jacobo, K.; Karki, A.; Herring, I.; Tunuguntla, S.; Pace, M.; Doan, B.; Wen, H.; Klomp, A.; Lauffer, M.; Gaine, M. E.; Parker, K.; Williams, A. J.


The 16p11.2 microduplication (16p11.2dp/+) is associated with several neuropsychiatric disorders including schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorder, bipolar disorder, intellectual disability, and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Cerebellar abnormalities have been increasingly implicated in these neuropsychiatric disorders, including those conferred by 16p11.2 microduplication. In 16p11.2dp/+ mouse models, the cerebellum is a site of transcriptional dysregulation, and cerebellar microcephaly has been reported in humans with 16p11.2 microduplication. Despite mounting evidence indicating a role for the cerebellum in neuropsychiatric disorders associated with this CNV, cerebellar cellular structure and cerebellar-dependent behavior in mice with 16p11.2 microduplication remain uncharacterized. To address this, we histologically labeled Purkinje cells (PCs) and molecular layer interneurons (MLIs) in a mouse model of 16p11.2 microduplication. We did not find any structural differences in cerebellar lobule IV/V, nor did we observe impairments in gait or motor coordination, behaviors that are associated with lobule IV/V. In contrast, we discovered a significant increase in calbindin/parvalbumin-positive PCs mislocalized to the granule layer of cerebellar lobule VI in 16p11.2dp/+ mice compared to wild-type (WT) littermates. Additionally, we found a significant decrease in parvalbumin-positive MLIs without a decrease in total DAPI-positive cell counts in lobule VI of 16p11.2dp/+ mice compared to WT littermates. Cerebellar lobule VI is associated with delay eyeblink conditioning, and 16p11.2dp/+ mice are impaired in cerebellum-dependent associative learning on this task. Specifically, 16p11.2dp/+ mice showed deficits in both conditioned response (CR) percentage and CR onset latency relative to WT mice. These results suggest that lobule VI-specific alterations to PC localization and MLI parvalbumin expression in 16p11.2dp/+ mice impair both cerebellar learning and adaptive timing of cerebellar-driven, conditioned responses. Thus, we have identified novel structural and functional alterations in the cerebellum that are associated with 16p11.2 microduplication. Importantly, individuals with schizophrenia and ADHD also show CR acquisition deficits in delay eyeblink conditioning. Together, these data suggest that the behavioral impairments in 16p11.2dp/+ mice resemble impairments seen in neuropsychiatric disorders linked to 16p11.2 microduplication in humans. Further investigation of cerebellar cortex neurons in 16p11.2dp/+ mice may provide insights into the pathogenesis of neuropsychiatric disorders linked to this copy number variant.

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