Available only for arXiv papers.
Adults and children afflicted with the 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11.2DS) exhibit cognitive, social, and emotional impairments, and are at significantly heightened risk for schizophrenia (SCZ). The impact of this deletion on early human brain development, however, has remained unclear. Here we harness organoid models of the developing human cerebral cortex, cultivated from subjects with 22q11.2DS and SCZ, as well as unaffected control samples, to identify cell-type-specific developmental abnormalities arising from this genomic lesion. Leveraging single-cell RNA-sequencing in conjunction with experimental validation, we find that the loss of genes within the 22q11.2 locus leads to a delayed development of cortical neurons. This compromised development was reflected in an elevated proportion of actively proliferating neural progenitor cells, coupled with a decreased fraction of more mature neurons. Furthermore, we identify perturbed molecular imprints linked to neuronal maturation, observe the presence of sparser neurites, and note a blunted amplitude in glutamate-induced Ca2+ transients. The aberrant transcription program underlying impaired development contains molecular signatures significantly enriched in neuropsychiatric genetic liability. MicroRNA profiling and target gene investigation suggest that microRNA dysregulation may drive perturbations of genes governing the pace at which maturation unfolds. Using protein-protein interaction network analysis we define complementary effects stemming from additional genes residing within the deleted locus. Our study uncovers reproducible neurodevelopmental and molecular alterations due to 22q11.2 deletions. These findings have the potential to facilitate disease modeling and promote the pursuit of therapeutic interventions.