Human neural networks with sparse TDP-43 pathology reveal NPTX2 misregulation in ALS/FTLD
. 2021-12-09; :
Human cellular models of neurodegeneration require reproducibility and longevity, which is necessary for simulating these age-dependent diseases. Such systems are particularly needed for TDP-43 proteinopathies1,2, which involve human-specific mechanisms3–6 that cannot be directly studied in animal models. To explore the emergence and consequences of TDP-43 pathologies, we generated iPSC-derived, colony morphology neural stem cells (iCoMoNSCs) via manual selection of neural precursors7. Single-cell transcriptomics (scRNA-seq) and comparison to independent NSCs8, showed that iCoMoNSCs are uniquely homogenous and self-renewing. Differentiated iCoMoNSCs formed a self-organized multicellular system consisting of synaptically connected and electrophysiologically active neurons, which matured into long-lived functional networks. Neuronal and glial maturation in iCoMoNSC-derived cultures was similar to that of cortical organoids9. Overexpression of wild-type TDP-43 in a minority of iCoMoNSC-derived neurons led to progressive fragmentation and aggregation, resulting in loss of function and neurotoxicity. scRNA-seq revealed a novel set of misregulated RNA targets coinciding in both TDP-43 overexpressing neurons and patient brains exhibiting loss of nuclear TDP-43. The strongest misregulated target encoded for the synaptic protein NPTX2, which was consistently misaccumulated in ALS and FTLD patient neurons with TDP-43 pathology. Our work directly links TDP-43 misregulation and NPTX2 accumulation, thereby highlighting a new pathway of neurotoxicity.