All Publications

  • Antisense oligonucleotide therapeutic approach for Timothy syndrome. Nature Chen, X., Birey, F., Li, M. Y., Revah, O., Levy, R., Thete, M. V., Reis, N., Kaganovsky, K., Onesto, M., Sakai, N., Hudacova, Z., Hao, J., Meng, X., Nishino, S., Huguenard, J., Pașca, S. P. 2024; 628 (8009): 818-825


    Timothy syndrome (TS) is a severe, multisystem disorder characterized by autism, epilepsy, long-QT syndrome and other neuropsychiatric conditions1. TS type 1 (TS1) is caused by a gain-of-function variant in the alternatively spliced and developmentally enriched CACNA1C exon 8A, as opposed to its counterpart exon 8. We previously uncovered several phenotypes in neurons derived from patients with TS1, including delayed channel inactivation, prolonged depolarization-induced calcium rise, impaired interneuron migration, activity-dependent dendrite retraction and an unanticipated persistent expression of exon 8A2-6. We reasoned that switching CACNA1C exon utilization from 8A to 8 would represent a potential therapeutic strategy. Here we developed antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) to effectively decrease the inclusion of exon 8A in human cells both in vitro and, following transplantation, in vivo. We discovered that the ASO-mediated switch from exon 8A to 8 robustly rescued defects in patient-derived cortical organoids and migration in forebrain assembloids. Leveraging a transplantation platform previously developed7, we found that a single intrathecal ASO administration rescued calcium changes and in vivo dendrite retraction of patient neurons, suggesting that suppression of CACNA1C exon 8A expression is a potential treatment for TS1. Broadly, these experiments illustrate how a multilevel, in vivo and in vitro stem cell model-based approach can identify strategies to reverse disease-relevant neural pathophysiology.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41586-024-07310-6

    View details for PubMedID 38658687

    View details for PubMedCentralID 1149428

  • Assembloid CRISPR screens reveal impact of disease genes in human neurodevelopment. Nature Meng, X., Yao, D., Imaizumi, K., Chen, X., Kelley, K. W., Reis, N., Thete, M. V., Arjun McKinney, A., Kulkarni, S., Panagiotakos, G., Bassik, M. C., Pașca, S. P. 2023


    The assembly of cortical circuits involves the generation and migration of interneurons from the ventral to the dorsal forebrain1-3, which has been challenging to study at inaccessible stages of late gestation and early postnatal human development4. Autism spectrum disorder and other neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) have been associated with abnormal cortical interneuron development5, but which of these NDD genes affect interneuron generation and migration, and how they mediate these effects remains unknown. We previously developed a platform to study interneuron development and migration in subpallial organoids and forebrain assembloids6. Here we integrate assembloids with CRISPR screening to investigate the involvement of 425 NDD genes in human interneuron development. The first screen aimed at interneuron generation revealed 13 candidate genes, including CSDE1 and SMAD4. We subsequently conducted an interneuron migration screen in more than 1,000 forebrain assembloids that identified 33 candidate genes, including cytoskeleton-related genes and the endoplasmic reticulum-related gene LNPK. We discovered that, during interneuron migration, the endoplasmic reticulum is displaced along the leading neuronal branch before nuclear translocation. LNPK deletion interfered with this endoplasmic reticulum displacement and resulted in abnormal migration. These results highlight the power of this CRISPR-assembloid platform to systematically map NDD genes onto human development and reveal disease mechanisms.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41586-023-06564-w

    View details for PubMedID 37758944

    View details for PubMedCentralID 4349583

  • Mechanisms of innate and adaptive immunity to the Pfizer-BioNTech BNT162b2 vaccine. Nature immunology Li, C., Lee, A., Grigoryan, L., Arunachalam, P. S., Scott, M. K., Trisal, M., Wimmers, F., Sanyal, M., Weidenbacher, P. A., Feng, Y., Adamska, J. Z., Valore, E., Wang, Y., Verma, R., Reis, N., Dunham, D., O'Hara, R., Park, H., Luo, W., Gitlin, A. D., Kim, P., Khatri, P., Nadeau, K. C., Pulendran, B. 2022


    Despite the success of the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine, the immunological mechanisms that underlie its efficacy are poorly understood. Here we analyzed the innate and adaptive responses to BNT162b2 in mice, and show that immunization stimulated potent antibody and antigen-specific T cell responses, as well as strikingly enhanced innate responses after secondary immunization, which was concurrent with enhanced serum interferon (IFN)-gamma levels 1d following secondary immunization. Notably, we found that natural killer cells and CD8+ T cells in the draining lymph nodes are the major producers of this circulating IFN-gamma. Analysis of knockout mice revealed that induction of antibody and T cell responses to BNT162b2 was not dependent on signaling via Toll-like receptors 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 nor inflammasome activation, nor the necroptosis or pyroptosis cell death pathways. Rather, the CD8+ T cell response induced by BNT162b2 was dependent on type I interferon-dependent MDA5 signaling. These results provide insights into the molecular mechanisms by which the BNT162b2 vaccine stimulates immune responses.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41590-022-01163-9

    View details for PubMedID 35288714

  • Durability of immune responses to the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine MED Suthar, M. S., Arunachalam, P. S., Hu, M., Reis, N., Trisal, M., Raeber, O., Chinthrajah, S., Davis-Gardner, M. E., Manning, K., Mudvari, P., Boritz, E., Godbole, S., Henry, A. R., Douek, D. C., Halfmann, P., Kawaoka, Y., Boyd, S. D., Davis, M. M., Zarnitsyna, V. I., Nadeau, K., Pulendran, B. 2022; 3 (1): 25-27