An inappropriate decline in ribosome levels drives a diverse set of neurodevelopmental disorders

Ni C. et al.

Many neurodevelopmental defects are linked to perturbations in genes involved in housekeeping functions, such as those encoding ribosome biogenesis factors. However, how reductions in ribosome biogenesis can result in tissue and developmental specific defects remains a mystery. Here we describe new allelic variants in the ribosome biogenesis factor AIRIM primarily associated with neurodevelopmental disorders. Using human cerebral organoids in combination with proteomic analysis, single-cell transcriptome analysis across multiple developmental stages, and single organoid translatome analysis, we identify a previously unappreciated mechanism linking changes in ribosome levels and the timing of cell fate specification during early brain development. We find ribosome levels decrease during neuroepithelial differentiation, making differentiating cells particularly vulnerable to perturbations in ribosome biogenesis during this time. Reduced ribosome availability more profoundly impacts the translation of specific transcripts, disrupting both survival and cell fate commitment of transitioning neuroepithelia. Enhancing mTOR activity by both genetic and pharmacologic approaches ameliorates the growth and developmental defects associated with intellectual disability linked variants, identifying potential treatment options for specific brain ribosomopathies. This work reveals the cellular and molecular origins of protein synthesis defect-related disorders of human brain development.

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January, 2024


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