January 24, 2021

Role for the Na+/K+ ATPase α 3 subunit in folding and lamination of the human neocortex

Osmotic equilibrium and membrane potential in animal cells depend on concentration gradients of sodium (Na+) and potassium (K+) ions across the plasma membrane, a function that is catalyzed by the Na,K-ATPase 3 subunit. In vertebrates, four paralogous genes, ATP1A1-4, encode distinct alpha subunit isoforms ( 1- 4), three of which ( 1, 2, 3; are expressed in the brain, and two ( 1, 3) predominantly in neurons. The 3 isoform, encoded by ATP1A3, is critical to neuronal physiology, and a growing spectrum of neurological diseases are associated with ATP1A3 pathogenic variants, with ages of onset ranging from early childhood to adulthood. Here, we describe ATP1A3 variants encoding dysfunctional 3 subunits in children affected by polymicrogyria, a developmental malformation of the cerebral cortex characterized by abnormal folding and laminar organization. To gain cell-biological insights into the spatiotemporal dynamics of prenatal ATP1A3 expression, we established a transcriptional atlas of ATP1A3 expression during cortical development using mRNA in situ hybridization and transcriptomic profiling of ~125,000 individual cells with single-cell RNA sequencing (Drop-Seq) from various areas of the midgestational human neocortex. We find that fetal expression of ATP1A3 is restricted to a subset of excitatory neurons carrying transcriptional signatures of neuronal activity and maturation characteristic of the developing subplate. Furthermore, by performing Drop-Seq on ~52,000 nuclei from four different areas of an infant human neocortex, we show that ATP1A3 expression persists throughout early postnatal development, not only within excitatory neurons across all cortical layers, but also and more predominantly in inhibitory neurons, with specific enrichment in fast-spiking basket cells. In addition, we show that ATP1A3 expression, both in fetal and postnatal neurons, tends to be higher in frontal cortical areas than in occipital areas, in a pattern consistent with the rostro-caudal maturation gradient of the human neocortex. Finally, we discover distinct co-expression patterns linking catalytic and {beta} ; subunit isoforms (ATP1A1,2,3) and auxiliary isoforms (ATP1B1,2,3), suggesting the ATPase pump may form non-redundant, cell-type specific alpha-beta combinations. Together, the importance of the developmental phenotypes and dynamic expression patterns of ATP1A3 point to a key role for 3 in the development and function of human cortex.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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