TGF-β-Induced Phosphorylation of Usp9X Stabilizes Ankyrin-G and Regulates Dendritic Spine Development and Maintenance

Sehyoun Yoon, Euan Parnell, Peter Penzes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Signaling by the cytokine transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) has been implicated in a multitude of biological functions; however, TGF-β signaling, particularly in the CNS, remains largely unexplored. ANK3 variants (encoding ankyrin-G) are associated with bipolar disorder, intellectual disability, and autism spectrum disorder, while mutations in USP9X, which encodes a deubiquitinase, are associated with X-linked intellectual disability and autism in humans. Here, we show that TGF-β signaling promotes Usp9X phosphorylation, which enhances its interaction with ankyrin-G and stabilizes ankyrin-G in spines, leading to spine enlargement. Using in situ proximity ligation combined with structured illumination superresolution microscopy, we characterize the postsynaptic spatial organization of phosphorylation-dependent regulation of Usp9X/ankyrin-G interactions in dendrites and its quantitative relationship with spine morphology and number. These data reveal a cytokine-mediated mechanism regulating protein stability in spines and suggest a role for deubiquitination and TGF-β signaling in neurodevelopmental disorder pathogenesis and treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107685
JournalCell reports
Issue number8
StatePublished - May 26 2020


  • TGF-β
  • Usp9X
  • ankyrin-G
  • proximity ligation assay
  • structured illumination microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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