Modeling the neuropsychiatric manifestations of Lowe syndrome using induced pluripotent stem cells: Defective F-actin polymerization and WAVE-1 expression in neuronal cells

Jesse Barnes, Franklin Salas, Ryan Mokhtari, Hedwig Dolstra, Erika Pedrosa, Herbert M. Lachman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: Lowe syndrome (LS) is a rare genetic disorder caused by loss of function mutations in the X-linked gene, OCRL, which codes for inositol polyphosphate 5-phosphatase. LS is characterized by the triad of congenital cataracts, neurodevelopmental impairment (primarily intellectual and developmental disabilities [IDD]), and renal proximal tubular dysfunction. Studies carried out over the years have shown that hypomorphic mutations in OCRL adversely affect endosome recycling and actin polymerization in kidney cells and patient-derived fibroblasts. The renal problem has been traced to an impaired recycling of megalin, a multi-ligand receptor that plays a key role in the reuptake of lipoproteins, amino acids, vitamin-binding proteins, and hormones. However, the neurodevelopmental aspects of the disorder have been difficult to study because the mouse knockout (KO) model does not display LS-related phenotypes. Fortunately, the discovery of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells has provided an opportunity to grow patient-specific neurons, which can be used to model neurodevelopmental disorders in vitro, as demonstrated in the many studies that have been published in the past few years in autism spectrum disorders (ASD), schizophrenia (SZ), bipolar disorder (BD), and IDD. Methods: We now report the first findings in neurons and neural progenitor cells (NPCs) generated from iPS cells derived from patients with LS and their typically developing male siblings, as well as an isogenic line in which the OCRL gene has been incapacitated by a null mutation generated using CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing. Results: We show that neuronal cells derived from patient-specific iPS cells containing hypomorphic variants are deficient in their capacity to produce F-filamentous actin (F-actin) fibers. Abnormalities were also found in the expression of WAVE-1, a component of the WAVE regulatory complex (WRC) that regulates actin polymerization. Curiously, neuronal cells carrying the engineered OCRL null mutation, in which OCRL protein is not expressed, did not show similar defects in F-actin and WAVE-1 expression. This is similar to the apparent lack of a phenotype in the mouse Ocrl KO model, and suggests that in the complete absence of OCRL protein, as opposed to producing a dysfunctional protein, as seen with the hypomorphic variants, there is partial compensation for the F-actin/WAVE-1 regulating function of OCRL. Conclusions: Alterations in F-actin polymerization and WRC have been found in a number of genetic subgroups of IDD and ASD. Thus, LS, a very rare genetic condition, is linked to a more expansive family of genes responsible for neurodevelopmental disorders that have shared pathogenic features.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number44
JournalMolecular Autism
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 15 2018


  • Autism
  • Cataract
  • Dent disease
  • Developmental
  • INPP5B
  • Induced pluripotent stem cells
  • Intellectual
  • Lowe syndrome
  • OCRL
  • Renal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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