Nat Genet 2018 08 16;50(8):1093-1101. Epub 2018 Jul 16.
Department of Neuroscience, Rady Children's Institute for Genomic Medicine, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California, San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA.
Neuronal migration defects, including pachygyria, are among the most severe developmental brain defects in humans. Here, we identify biallelic truncating mutations in CTNNA2, encoding αN-catenin, in patients with a distinct recessive form of pachygyria. CTNNA2 was expressed in human cerebral cortex, and its loss in neurons led to defects in neurite stability and migration. The αN-catenin paralog, αE-catenin, acts as a switch regulating the balance between β-catenin and Arp2/3 actin filament activities. Loss of αN-catenin did not affect β-catenin signaling, but recombinant αN-catenin interacted with purified actin and repressed ARP2/3 actin-branching activity. The actin-binding domain of αN-catenin or ARP2/3 inhibitors rescued the neuronal phenotype associated with CTNNA2 loss, suggesting ARP2/3 de-repression as a potential disease mechanism. Our findings identify CTNNA2 as the first catenin family member with biallelic mutations in humans, causing a new pachygyria syndrome linked to actin regulation, and uncover a key factor involved in ARP2/3 repression in neurons.