All Publications

  • Loss of non-motor kinesin KIF26A causes congenital brain malformations via dysregulated neuronal migration and axonal growth as well as apoptosis DEVELOPMENTAL CELL Qian, X., DeGennaro, E. M., Talukdar, M., Akula, S. K., Lai, A., Shao, D. D., Gonzalez, D., Marciano, J. H., Smith, R. S., Hylton, N. K., Yang, E., Bazan, J., Barrett, L., Yeh, R. C., Hill, R., Beck, S. G., Otani, A., Angad, J., Mitani, T., Posey, J. E., Pehlivan, D., Calame, D., Aydin, H., Yesilbas, O., Parks, K. C., Argilli, E., England, E., Im, K., Taranath, A., Scott, H. S., Barnett, C. P., Arts, P., Sherr, E. H., Lupski, J. R., Walsh, C. A. 2022; 57 (20): 2381-+


    Kinesins are canonical molecular motors but can also function as modulators of intracellular signaling. KIF26A, an unconventional kinesin that lacks motor activity, inhibits growth-factor-receptor-bound protein 2 (GRB2)- and focal adhesion kinase (FAK)-dependent signal transduction, but its functions in the brain have not been characterized. We report a patient cohort with biallelic loss-of-function variants in KIF26A, exhibiting a spectrum of congenital brain malformations. In the developing brain, KIF26A is preferentially expressed during early- and mid-gestation in excitatory neurons. Combining mice and human iPSC-derived organoid models, we discovered that loss of KIF26A causes excitatory neuron-specific defects in radial migration, localization, dendritic and axonal growth, and apoptosis, offering a convincing explanation of the disease etiology in patients. Single-cell RNA sequencing in KIF26A knockout organoids revealed transcriptional changes in MAPK, MYC, and E2F pathways. Our findings illustrate the pathogenesis of KIF26A loss-of-function variants and identify the surprising versatility of this non-motor kinesin.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.devcel.2022.09.011

    View details for Web of Science ID 000880668900004

    View details for PubMedID 36228617

  • ANKLE2-related microcephaly: A variable microcephaly syndrome resembling Zika infection ANNALS OF CLINICAL AND TRANSLATIONAL NEUROLOGY Thomas, A. X., Link, N., Robak, L. A., Demmler-Harrison, G., Pao, E. C., Squire, A. E., Michels, S., Cohen, J. S., Comi, A., Prontera, P., di Pianella, A., Di Cara, G., Garavelli, L., Caraffi, S., Fusco, C., Zuntini, R., Parks, K. C., Sherr, E. H., Hashem, M. O., Maddirevula, S., Alkuraya, F. S., Contractar, I. F., Neil, J. E., Walsh, C. A., Bellen, H. J., Chao, H., Clark, R. D., Mirzaa, G. M. 2022


    This study delineates the clinical and molecular spectrum of ANKLE2-related microcephaly (MIC), as well as highlights shared pathological mechanisms between ANKLE2 and the Zika virus.We identified 12 individuals with MIC and variants in ANKLE2 with a broad range of features. Probands underwent thorough phenotypic evaluations, developmental assessments, and anthropometric measurements. Brain imaging studies were systematically reviewed for developmental abnormalities. We functionally interrogated a subset of identified ANKLE2 variants in Drosophila melanogaster.All individuals had MIC (z-score ≤ -3), including nine with congenital MIC. We identified a broad range of brain abnormalities including simplified cortical gyral pattern, full or partial callosal agenesis, increased extra-axial spaces, hypomyelination, cerebellar vermis hypoplasia, and enlarged cisterna magna. All probands had developmental delays in at least one domain, with speech and language delays being the most common. Six probands had skin findings characteristic of ANKLE2 including hyper- and hypopigmented macules. Only one individual had scalp rugae. Functional characterization in Drosophila recapitulated the human MIC phenotype. Of the four variants tested, p.Val229Gly, p.Arg236*, and p.Arg536Cys acted as partial-loss-of-function variants, whereas the c.1421-1G>C splicing variant demonstrated a strong loss-of-function effect.Deleterious variants in the ANKLE2 gene cause a unique MIC syndrome characterized by congenital or postnatal MIC, a broad range of structural brain abnormalities, and skin pigmentary changes. Thorough functional characterization has identified shared pathogenic mechanisms between ANKLE2-related MIC and congenital Zika virus infection. This study further highlights the importance of a thorough diagnostic evaluation including molecular diagnostic testing in individuals with MIC.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/acn3.51629

    View details for Web of Science ID 000829204500001

    View details for PubMedID 35871307

  • A Feasibility Study of a Remotely-Delivered Mindfulness-Based Training for Adolescents During the COVID-19 Pandemic FRONTIERS IN PSYCHIATRY Tymofiyeva, O., Hu, M. Y., Sipes, B. S., Jakary, A., Glidden, D. V., Jariwala, N., Bhandari, S., Parks, K. C., Nguyen, C., Henje, E., Yang, T. T. 2022; 13: 838694


    Social distancing, home confinement, economic challenges, and COVID-19-related illness and deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic can significantly affect mental health in youth. One promising approach to reduce anxiety and depression in adolescents is the neuroscience-based mindfulness intervention Training for Awareness, Resilience, and Action (TARA). The objective of this individually randomized waitlist-controlled trial (RCT) was (1) to test the feasibility of TARA, delivered partially over Zoom, and (2) to assess changes in the emotional wellbeing in healthy adolescents between the ages of 14-18 years old during the COVID-19 pandemic.Twenty-one healthy adolescents were randomized to the TARA intervention or to the waitlist control group in February 2020, just before the start of the pandemic. The TARA group intervention was delivered in person for the first five sessions and remotely over Zoom for the remaining seven sessions due to the pandemic. The participants' acceptability of TARA was assessed weekly using the Child Session Rating Scale (CSRS). The primary outcome was the emotional wellbeing measured using emotional symptoms subscale of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) pre/post-TARA. We also explored weekly changes in TARA participants' wellbeing using the Child Outcome Rating Scale (CORS).The overall session rating in TARA participants improved after the switch to Zoom (Cohen's d = 1.2, p = 0.008). The results of the two-way ANOVA showed no statistically significant difference in the change of the SDQ emotional symptoms during the 12 weeks between the TARA group and waitlist-control group (timepoint × group interaction: F = 0.77, p = 0.38). The exploratory analysis using the CORS in the TARA participants showed a significant improvement in their functioning over the weeks of training.Our results support the feasibility of TARA delivered over Zoom. While our primary outcome did not provide support for the improvement of the emotional wellbeing with TARA compared to a passive control group, our exploratory analysis in the intervention group indicated an improved functioning over the weeks of TARA training. The important general positive impact of this study lies in the possibility of offering a neuroscience-based mindfulness intervention remotely to youth living in remote areas and for all youth during pandemic times.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fpsyt.2022.838694

    View details for Web of Science ID 000803642300001

    View details for PubMedID 35633797

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC9133427

  • A Domain-General Developmental "Do-GooD" Network Model of Prosocial Cognition in Adolescence: A Systematic Review FRONTIERS IN BEHAVIORAL NEUROSCIENCE Sipes, B. S., Yang, T. T., Parks, K. C., Jariwala, N., Tymofiyeva, O. 2022; 16: 815811


    Adolescence is a period of substantial neural and social development, and prosocial decisions are beneficial to personal well-being, the well-being of others, and the functioning of society. Advances in network neuroscience call for a systematic synthesis and reappraisal of prosocial neural correlates during adolescent development. In this systematic review, we aim to outline the progress made in this field, identify the similarities between study results, and propose a model for prosocial cognition in adolescents to young adults. A total of 25 articles were included in this review. After reviewing and synthesizing the literature, we propose a DOmain-General Developmental "Do-GooD" network model of prosocial cognition that aligns with the reviewed literature, accounts for development, and combines elements of the value-based decision-making model with distinct value contributions from the default mode network, salience network, and control network. We offer predictions to test the "Do-GooD" model and propose new future directions for studying prosocial behavior and its development during adolescence, which in turn may lead to improving education and the development of better health interventions for adolescents.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fnbeh.2022.815811

    View details for Web of Science ID 000782580000001

    View details for PubMedID 35350389

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8957975

  • Major brain malformations: corpus callosum dysgenesis, agenesis of septum pellucidum and polymicrogyria in patients with BCORL1-related disorders JOURNAL OF HUMAN GENETICS Gafner, M., Michelson, M., Argilli, E., Yosovich, K., Sherr, E. H., Parks, K. C., England, E. M., Hady-Cohen, R., Leibovitz, Z., Lev, D., Michaeli-Yosef, Y., Lerman-Sagie, T., Blumkin, L. 2022; 67 (2): 95-101


    BCORL1, a transcriptional co-repressor, has a role in cortical migration, neuronal differentiation, maturation, and cerebellar development. We describe BCORL1 as a new genetic cause for major brain malformations.We report three patients from two unrelated families with neonatal onset intractable epilepsy and profound global developmental delay. Brain MRI of two siblings from the first family depicted hypoplastic corpus callosum and septal agenesis (ASP) in the older brother and unilateral perisylvian polymicrogyria (PMG) in the younger one. MRI of the patient from the second family demonstrated complete agenesis of corpus callosum (CC). Whole Exome Sequencing revealed a novel hemizygous variant in NM_021946.5 (BCORL1):c.796C>T (p.Pro266Ser) in the two siblings from the first family and the NM_021946.5 (BCORL1): c.3376G>A; p.Asp1126Asn variant in the patient from the second family, both variants inherited from healthy mothers. We reviewed the patients' charts and MRIs and compared the phenotype to the other published BCORL1-related cases. Brain malformations have not been previously described in association with the BCORL1 phenotype. We discuss the potential influence of BCORL1 on brain development.We suggest that BCORL1 variants present with a spectrum of neurodevelopmental disorders and can lead to major brain malformations originating at different stages of fetal development. We suggest adding BCORL1 to the genetic causes of PMG, ASP, and CC dysgenesis.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s10038-021-00971-5

    View details for Web of Science ID 000685368200001

    View details for PubMedID 34400773

  • Bi-allelic loss-of-function variants in BCAS3 cause a syndromic neurodevelopmental disorder AMERICAN JOURNAL OF HUMAN GENETICS Hengel, H., Hannan, S. B., Dyack, S., MacKay, S. B., Schatz, U., Fleger, M., Kurringer, A., Balousha, G., Ghanim, Z., Alkuraya, F. S., Alzaidan, H., Alsaif, H. S., Mitani, T., Bozdogan, S., Pehlivan, D., Lupski, J. R., Gleeson, J. J., Dehghani, M., Mehrjardi, M. Y., Sherr, E. H., Parks, K. C., Argilli, E., Begtrup, A., Galehdari, H., Balousha, O., Shariati, G., Mazaheri, N., Malamiri, R. A., Pagnamenta, A. T., Kingston, H., Banka, S., Jackson, A., Osmond, M., Riess, A., Haack, T. B., Naegele, T., Schuster, S., Hauser, S., Admard, J., Casadei, N., Velic, A., Macek, B., Ossowski, S., Houlden, H., Maroofian, R., Schoels, L., Care4Rare Canada Consortium, Genomics England Res Consortium 2021; 108 (6): 1069-1082


    BCAS3 microtubule-associated cell migration factor (BCAS3) is a large, highly conserved cytoskeletal protein previously proposed to be critical in angiogenesis and implicated in human embryogenesis and tumorigenesis. Here, we established BCAS3 loss-of-function variants as causative for a neurodevelopmental disorder. We report 15 individuals from eight unrelated families with germline bi-allelic loss-of-function variants in BCAS3. All probands share a global developmental delay accompanied by pyramidal tract involvement, microcephaly, short stature, strabismus, dysmorphic facial features, and seizures. The human phenotype is less severe compared with the Bcas3 knockout mouse model and cannot be explained by angiogenic defects alone. Consistent with being loss-of-function alleles, we observed absence of BCAS3 in probands' primary fibroblasts. By comparing the transcriptomic and proteomic data based on probands' fibroblasts with those of the knockout mouse model, we identified similar dysregulated pathways resulting from over-representation analysis, while the dysregulation of some proposed key interactors could not be confirmed. Together with the results from a tissue-specific Drosophila loss-of-function model, we demonstrate a vital role for BCAS3 in neural tissue development.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.ajhg.2021.04.024

    View details for Web of Science ID 000658897400006

    View details for PubMedID 34022130

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8206390

  • Reduced anxiety and changes in amygdala network properties in adolescents with training for awareness, resilience, and action (TARA). NeuroImage. Clinical Tymofiyeva, O., Henje, E., Yuan, J. P., Huang, C., Connolly, C. G., Ho, T. C., Bhandari, S., Parks, K. C., Sipes, B. S., Yang, T. T., Xu, D. 2020; 29: 102521


    Mindfulness-based approaches show promise to improve emotional health in youth and may help treat and prevent adolescent depression and anxiety. However, there is a fundamental gap in understanding the neural reorganization that takes place as a result of such interventions. The Training for Awareness, Resilience, and Action (TARA) program, initially developed for depressed adolescents, uses a framework drawn from neuroscience, mindfulness, yoga, and modern psychotherapeutic techniques to promote emotional health. The goal of this study was to assess the effects of the TARA training on emotional health and structural white matter brain networks in healthy youth. We analyzed data from 23 adolescents who underwent the 12-week TARA training in a controlled within-subject study design and whose brain networks were assessed using diffusion MRI connectomics. Compared to the control time period, adolescents showed a significant decrease in anxiety symptoms with TARA (Cohen's d=-0.961, p=0.006); moreover, the node strength of the Right Amygdala decreased significantly after TARA (Cohen's d=-1.026, p=0.004). Post-hoc analyses indicated that anxiety at baseline before TARA was positively correlated with Right Amygdala node strength (r=0.672, p=0.001). While change in Right Amygdala node strength with TARA was not correlated with change in anxiety (r=0.146, p=0.51), it was associated with change in depression subscale of Anhedonia / Negative Affect (r=0.575, p=0.004, exploratory analysis), possibly due to overlapping constructs captured in our anxiety and depression scales. Our results suggest that increased structural connectivity of Right Amygdala may underlie increased anxiety in adolescents and be lowered through anxiety-reducing training such as TARA. The results of this study contribute to our understanding of the neural mechanisms of TARA and may facilitate neuroscience-based prevention and treatment of adolescent anxiety and depression.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.nicl.2020.102521

    View details for PubMedID 33316764

  • Overcoming presynaptic effects of VAMP2 mutations with 4-aminopyridine treatment HUMAN MUTATION Simmons, R. L., Li, H., Alten, B., Santos, M. S., Jiang, R., Paul, B., Lalani, S. J., Cortesi, A., Parks, K., Khandelwal, N., Smith-Packard, B., Phoong, M. A., Chez, M., Fisher, H., Scheuerle, A. E., Shinawi, M., Hussain, S. A., Kavalali, E. T., Sherr, E. H., Voglmaier, S. M. 2020; 41 (11): 1999-2011


    Clinical and genetic features of five unrelated patients with de novo pathogenic variants in the synaptic vesicle-associated membrane protein 2 (VAMP2) reveal common features of global developmental delay, autistic tendencies, behavioral disturbances, and a higher propensity to develop epilepsy. For one patient, a cognitively impaired adolescent with a de novo stop-gain VAMP2 mutation, we tested a potential treatment strategy, enhancing neurotransmission by prolonging action potentials with the aminopyridine family of potassium channel blockers, 4-aminopyridine and 3,4-diaminopyridine, in vitro and in vivo. Synaptic vesicle recycling and neurotransmission were assayed in neurons expressing three VAMP2 variants by live-cell imaging and electrophysiology. In cellular models, two variants decrease both the rate of exocytosis and the number of synaptic vesicles released from the recycling pool, compared with wild-type. Aminopyridine treatment increases the rate and extent of exocytosis and total synaptic charge transfer and desynchronizes GABA release. The clinical response of the patient to 2 years of off-label aminopyridine treatment includes improved emotional and behavioral regulation by parental report, and objective improvement in standardized cognitive measures. Aminopyridine treatment may extend to patients with pathogenic variants in VAMP2 and other genes influencing presynaptic function or GABAergic tone, and tested in vitro before treatment.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/humu.24109

    View details for Web of Science ID 000573928100001

    View details for PubMedID 32906212