First published August 14, 2018 - More info
Previous findings showed that in mice, complete knockout of activity-dependent neuroprotective protein (ADNP) abolishes brain formation, while haploinsufficiency (Adnp+/–) causes cognitive impairments. We hypothesized that mutations in ADNP lead to a developmental/autistic syndrome in children. Indeed, recent phenotypic characterization of children harboring ADNP mutations (ADNP syndrome children) revealed global developmental delays and intellectual disabilities, including speech and motor dysfunctions. Mechanistically, ADNP includes a SIP motif embedded in the ADNP-derived snippet, drug candidate NAP (NAPVSIPQ also known as CP201), which binds to microtubule end binding protein 3, essential for dendritic spine formation. Here, we established a unique neuronal membrane tagged green fluorescent protein expressing Adnp+/– mouse line allowing in vivo synaptic pathology quantification. We discovered that Adnp deficiency reduced dendritic spine density and altered synaptic gene expression, both of which were partly ameliorated by NAP treatment. Adnp+/– mice further exhibited global developmental delays, vocalization impediments, gait/motor dysfunctions and social/object memory impairments, all partially reversed by daily NAP administration (systemic/nasal). In conclusion, we now connected ADNP-related synaptic pathology to developmental/behavioral outcomes, establishing NAP in vivo target engagement and identifying potential biomarkers. Together, these studies pave the path toward clinical development of NAP (CP201) in the ADNP syndrome.