UBE3A and transsynaptic complex NRXN1-CBLN1-GluD1 in a hypothalamic VMHvl-arcuate feedback circuit regulates aggression.bioRxiv. 2023 Mar 01B
The circuit origins of aggression in autism spectrum disorder remain undefined. Here we report Tac1 -expressing glutamatergic neurons in ventrolateral division of ventromedial hypothalamus (VMHvl) drive intermale aggression. Aggression is increased due to increases of Ube3a gene dosage in the VMHvl neurons when modeling autism due to maternal 15q11-13 triplication. Targeted deletion of increased Ube3a copies in VMHvl reverses the elevated aggression adult mice. VMHvl neurons form excitatory synapses onto hypothalamic arcuate nucleus AgRP/NPY neurons through a NRXN1-CBLN1-GluD1 transsynaptic complex and UBE3A impairs this synapse by decreasing Cbln1 gene expression. Exciting AgRP/NPY arcuate neurons leads to feedback inhibition of VMHvl neurons and inhibits aggression. Asymptomatic increases of UBE3A synergize with a heterozygous deficiency of presynaptic Nrxn1 or postsynaptic Grid1 (both ASD genes) to increase aggression. Targeted deletions of Grid1 in arcuate AgRP neurons impairs the VMHvl to AgRP/NPY neuron excitatory synapses while increasing aggression. Chemogenetic/optogenetic activation of arcuate AgRP/NPY neurons inhibits VMHvl neurons and represses aggression. These data reveal that multiple autism genes converge to regulate the VMHvl-arcuate AgRP/NPY glutamatergic synapse. The hypothalamic circuitry implicated by these data suggest impaired excitation of AgRP/NPY feedback inhibitory neurons may explain the increased aggression behavior found in genetic forms of autism.
One Sentence Summary
A feedback circuit in the hypothalamus that inhibits aggression is impaired by converging autism genetic defects.