Syntaxin-binding protein 1 (STXBP1; also called MUNC18-1), encoded by STXBP1, is an essential component of the molecular machinery that controls synaptic vesicle docking and fusion. De novo pathogenic variants of STXBP1 cause a complex set of neurological disturbances, namely STXBP1 encephalopathy (STXBP1-E) that includes epilepsy, neurodevelopmental disorders and neurodegeneration. Several animal studies have suggested the contribution of GABAergic dysfunction in STXBP1-E pathogenesis. However, the pathophysiological changes in GABAergic neurons of these patients are still poorly understood. Here, we exclusively generated GABAergic neurons from STXBP1-E patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) by transient expression of the transcription factors ASCL1 and DLX2. We also generated CRISPR/Cas9-edited isogenic iPSC-derived GABAergic (iPSC GABA) neurons as controls. We demonstrated that the reduction in STXBP1 protein levels in patient-derived iPSC GABA neurons was slight (approximately 20%) compared to the control neurons, despite a 50% reduction in STXBP1 mRNA levels. Using a microelectrode array-based assay, we found that patient-derived iPSC GABA neurons exhibited dysfunctional maturation with reduced numbers of spontaneous spikes and bursts. These findings reinforce the idea that GABAergic dysfunction is a crucial contributor to STXBP1-E pathogenesis. Moreover, gene expression analysis revealed specific dysregulation of genes previously implicated in epilepsy, neurodevelopment and neurodegeneration in patient-derived iPSC GABA neurons, namely KCNH1, KCNH5, CNN3, RASGRF1, SEMA3A, SIAH3 and INPP5F. Thus, our study provides new insights for understanding the biological processes underlying the widespread neuropathological features of STXBP1-E.
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