Haploinsufficiency for Core Exon Junction Complex Components Disrupts Embryonic Neurogenesis and Causes p53-Mediated Microcephaly.PLoS Genet. 2016 09; 12(9):e1006282.PG
The exon junction complex (EJC) is an RNA binding complex comprised of the core components Magoh, Rbm8a, and Eif4a3. Human mutations in EJC components cause neurodevelopmental pathologies. Further, mice heterozygous for either Magoh or Rbm8a exhibit aberrant neurogenesis and microcephaly. Yet despite the requirement of these genes for neurodevelopment, the pathogenic mechanisms linking EJC dysfunction to microcephaly remain poorly understood. Here we employ mouse genetics, transcriptomic and proteomic analyses to demonstrate that haploinsufficiency for each of the 3 core EJC components causes microcephaly via converging regulation of p53 signaling. Using a new conditional allele, we first show that Eif4a3 haploinsufficiency phenocopies aberrant neurogenesis and microcephaly of Magoh and Rbm8a mutant mice. Transcriptomic and proteomic analyses of embryonic brains at the onset of neurogenesis identifies common pathways altered in each of the 3 EJC mutants, including ribosome, proteasome, and p53 signaling components. We further demonstrate all 3 mutants exhibit defective splicing of RNA regulatory proteins, implying an EJC dependent RNA regulatory network that fine-tunes gene expression. Finally, we show that genetic ablation of one downstream pathway, p53, significantly rescues microcephaly of all 3 EJC mutants. This implicates p53 activation as a major node of neurodevelopmental pathogenesis following EJC impairment. Altogether our study reveals new mechanisms to help explain how EJC mutations influence neurogenesis and underlie neurodevelopmental disease.