Recent genetic studies have underscored the pleiotropic effects of single genes to multiple cognitive disorders. Mutations of ZBTB16 are associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and schizophrenia (SCZ), but how the function of ZBTB16 is related to ASD or SCZ remains unknown. Here we show the deletion of Zbtb16 in mice leads to both ASD- and SCZ-like behaviors such as social impairment, repetitive behaviors, risk-taking behaviors, and cognitive impairment. To elucidate the mechanism underlying the behavioral phenotypes, we carried out histological studies and observed impairments in thinning of neocortical layer 6 (L6) and a reduction of TBR1+ neurons in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) of Zbtb16 KO mice. Furthermore, we found increased dendritic spines and microglia as well as developmental defects in oligodendrocytes and neocortical myelination in the PFC of Zbtb16 KO mice. Using a genomics approach, we identified the Zbtb16-transcriptome that includes genes involved in both ASD and SCZ pathophysiology and neocortical maturation such as neurogenesis and myelination. Co-expression networks further identified Zbtb16-correlated modules that are unique to ASD or SCZ respectively. Our study provides insight into the differential role of ZBTB16 in ASD and SCZ.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience