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PLoS Genet. 2019 Feb 6;15(2):e1007890. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1007890. eCollection 2019 Feb.

Genes encoding SATB2-interacting proteins in adult cerebral cortex contribute to human cognitive ability.

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Institute for Neuroscience, Medical University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria.
Cognitive Genetics and Cognitive Therapy Group, Neuroimaging, Cognition and Genomics (NICOG) Centre and NCBES Galway Neuroscience Centre, School of Psychology and Discipline of Biochemistry, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland.


During CNS development, the nuclear protein SATB2 is expressed in superficial cortical layers and determines projection neuron identity. In the adult CNS, SATB2 is expressed in pyramidal neurons of all cortical layers and is a regulator of synaptic plasticity and long-term memory. Common variation in SATB2 locus confers risk of schizophrenia, whereas rare, de novo structural and single nucleotide variants cause severe intellectual disability and absent or limited speech. To characterize differences in SATB2 molecular function in developing vs adult neocortex, we isolated SATB2 protein interactomes at the two ontogenetic stages and identified multiple novel SATB2 interactors. SATB2 interactomes are highly enriched for proteins that stabilize de novo chromatin loops. The comparison between the neonatal and adult SATB2 protein complexes indicates a developmental shift in SATB2 molecular function, from transcriptional repression towards organization of chromosomal superstructure. Accordingly, gene sets regulated by SATB2 in the neocortex of neonatal and adult mice show limited overlap. Genes encoding SATB2 protein interactors were grouped for gene set analysis of human GWAS data. Common variants associated with human cognitive ability are enriched within the genes encoding adult but not neonatal SATB2 interactors. Our data support a shift in the function of SATB2 in cortex over lifetime and indicate that regulation of spatial chromatin architecture by the SATB2 interactome contributes to cognitive function in the general population.

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