Elevated ROS levels during the early development of Angelman syndrome alter the apoptotic capacity of the developing neural precursor cells

Lilach Simchi, Pooja Kri Gupta, Yonatan Feuermann, Hanoch Kaphzan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Angelman syndrome (AS) is a rare genetic neurodevelopmental disorder caused by the maternally inherited loss of function of the UBE3A gene. AS is characterized by a developmental delay, lack of speech, motor dysfunction, epilepsy, autistic features, happy demeanor, and intellectual disability. While the cellular roles of UBE3A are not fully understood, studies suggest that the lack of UBE3A function is associated with elevated levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Despite the accumulating evidence emphasizing the importance of ROS during early brain development and its involvement in different neurodevelopmental disorders, up to date, the levels of ROS in AS neural precursor cells (NPCs) and the consequences on AS embryonic neural development have not been elucidated. In this study we show multifaceted mitochondrial aberration in AS brain-derived embryonic NPCs, which exhibit elevated mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔΨm), lower levels of endogenous reduced glutathione, excessive mitochondrial ROS (mROS) levels, and increased apoptosis compared to wild-type (WT) littermates. In addition, we report that glutathione replenishment by glutathione-reduced ethyl ester (GSH-EE) corrects the excessive mROS levels and attenuates the enhanced apoptosis in AS NPCs. Studying the glutathione redox imbalance and mitochondrial abnormalities in embryonic AS NPCs provides an essential insight into the involvement of UBE3A in early neural development, information that can serve as a powerful avenue towards a broader view of AS pathogenesis. Moreover, since mitochondrial dysfunction and elevated ROS levels were associated with other neurodevelopmental disorders, the findings herein suggest some potential shared underlying mechanisms for these disorders as well.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular Psychiatry
Early online date29 Mar 2023
StateE-pub ahead of print - 29 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The work was supported by the Israel Science Foundation Grant No. 248/20 (HK).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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