Schizophrenia risk is associated with increased gene copy number and brain expression of complement component 4 (C4). Because the complement system facilitates synaptic pruning, the C4 association has renewed interest in a hypothesis that excessive pruning contributes to schizophrenia pathogenesis. However, little is known about complement regulation in neural tissues or whether such regulation could be relevant to psychiatric illness. Intriguingly, common variation within CSMD1, which encodes a putative complement inhibitor, has consistently associated with schizophrenia at genome-wide significance. We found that Csmd1 is predominantly expressed in the brain by neurons, and is enriched at synapses; that human stem cell-derived neurons lacking CSMD1 are more vulnerable to complement deposition; and that mice lacking Csmd1 have increased brain complement activity, fewer synapses, aberrant complement-dependent development of a neural circuit, and synaptic elements that are preferentially engulfed by cultured microglia. These data suggest that CSMD1 opposes the complement cascade in neural tissues.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience