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Genes Dev. 2011 Sep 15;25(18):1909-14. doi: 10.1101/gad.16830211.

ASPM regulates Wnt signaling pathway activity in the developing brain.

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  • 1Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.


Autosomal recessive primary microcephaly (MCPH) is a neural developmental disorder in which patients display significantly reduced brain size. Mutations in Abnormal Spindle Microcephaly (ASPM) are the most common cause of MCPH. Here, we investigate the underlying functions of Aspm in brain development and find that Aspm expression is critical for proper neurogenesis and neuronal migration. The Wnt signaling pathway is known for its roles in embryogenesis, and genome-wide siRNA screens indicate that ASPM is a positive regulator of Wnt signaling. We demonstrate that knockdown of Aspm results in decreased Wnt-mediated transcription, and that expression of stabilized β-catenin can rescue this deficit. Finally, coexpression of stabilized β-catenin can rescue defects observed upon in vivo knockdown of Aspm. Our findings provide an impetus to further explore Aspm's role in facilitating Wnt-mediated neurogenesis programs, which may contribute to psychiatric illness etiology when perturbed.

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