Excitatory Dysfunction Drives Network and Calcium Handling Deficits in 16p11.2 Duplication Schizophrenia Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell–Derived Neurons

Euan Parnell, Lorenza Culotta, Marc P. Forrest, Hiba A. Jalloul, Blair L. Eckman, Daniel D. Loizzo, Katherine K.E. Horan, Marc Dos Santos, Nicolas H. Piguel, Derek J.C. Tai, Hanwen Zhang, Tracy S. Gertler, Dina Simkin, Alan R. Sanders, Michael E. Talkowski, Pablo V. Gejman, Evangelos Kiskinis, Jubao Duan, Peter Penzes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Schizophrenia (SCZ) is a debilitating psychiatric disorder with a large genetic contribution; however, its neurodevelopmental substrates remain largely unknown. Modeling pathogenic processes in SCZ using human induced pluripotent stem cell–derived neurons (iNs) has emerged as a promising strategy. Copy number variants confer high genetic risk for SCZ, with duplication of the 16p11.2 locus increasing the risk 14.5-fold. Methods: To dissect the contribution of induced excitatory neurons (iENs) versus GABAergic (gamma-aminobutyric acidergic) neurons (iGNs) to SCZ pathophysiology, we induced iNs from CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)-Cas9 isogenic and SCZ patient–derived induced pluripotent stem cells and analyzed SCZ-related phenotypes in iEN monocultures and iEN/iGN cocultures. Results: In iEN/iGN cocultures, neuronal firing and synchrony were reduced at later, but not earlier, stages of in vitro development. These were fully recapitulated in iEN monocultures, indicating a primary role for iENs. Moreover, isogenic iENs showed reduced dendrite length and deficits in calcium handling. iENs from 16p11.2 duplication-carrying patients with SCZ displayed overlapping deficits in network synchrony, dendrite outgrowth, and calcium handling. Transcriptomic analysis of both iEN cohorts revealed molecular markers of disease related to the glutamatergic synapse, neuroarchitecture, and calcium regulation. Conclusions: Our results indicate the presence of 16p11.2 duplication-dependent alterations in SCZ patient–derived iENs. Transcriptomics and cellular phenotyping reveal overlap between isogenic and patient-derived iENs, suggesting a central role of glutamatergic, morphological, and calcium dysregulation in 16p11.2 duplication-mediated pathogenesis. Moreover, excitatory dysfunction during early neurodevelopment is implicated as the basis of SCZ pathogenesis in 16p11.2 duplication carriers. Our results support network synchrony and calcium handling as outcomes directly linked to this genetic risk variant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-163
Number of pages11
JournalBiological psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 15 2023


  • 16p11.2
  • CNV
  • Calcium
  • Neuron
  • Schizophrenia
  • iPSC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry


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