Chromatin Remodeler CHD8 in Autism and Brain Development

Anke Hoffmann, Dietmar Spengler
Journal of Clinical Medicine 2021 January 19, 10 (2)
Chromodomain Helicase DNA-binding 8 ( CHD8 ) is a high confidence risk factor for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and the genetic cause of a distinct neurodevelopmental syndrome with the core symptoms of autism, macrocephaly, and facial dysmorphism. The role of CHD8 is well-characterized at the structural, biochemical, and transcriptional level. By contrast, much less is understood regarding how mutations in CHD8 underpin altered brain function and mental disease. Studies on various model organisms have been proven critical to tackle this challenge. Here, we scrutinize recent advances in this field with a focus on phenotypes in transgenic animal models and highlight key findings on neurodevelopment, neuronal connectivity, neurotransmission, synaptic and homeostatic plasticity, and habituation. Against this backdrop, we further discuss how to improve future animal studies, both in terms of technical issues and with respect to the sex-specific effects of Chd8 mutations for neuronal and higher-systems level function. We also consider outstanding questions in the field including 'humanized' mice models, therapeutic interventions, and how the use of pluripotent stem cell-derived cerebral organoids might help to address differences in neurodevelopment trajectories between model organisms and humans.

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