Impaired expression of the COSMOC/MOCOS gene unit in ASD patient stem cells


  • Rontani Pauline
  • Perche Olivier
  • Greetham Louise
  • Jullien Nicolas
  • Gepner Bruno
  • Feron François
  • Nivet Emmanuel
  • Erard-Garcia Madeleine


  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Molecular biology
  • Stem cells


Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are complex neurodevelopmental disorders with a very large number of risk loci detected in the genome. However, at best, each of them explains rare cases, the majority being idiopathic. Genomic data on ASD derive mostly from post-mortem brain analyses or cell lines derived from blood or patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCS). Therefore, the transcriptional and regulatory architecture of the nervous system, particularly during early developmental periods, remains highly incomplete. To access the critical disturbances that may have occurred during pregnancy or early childhood, we recently isolated stem cells from the nasal cavity of anesthetized patients diagnosed for ASD and compared them to stem cells from gender-matched control individuals without neuropsychiatric disorders. This allowed us to discover MOCOS, a non-mutated molybdenum cofactor sulfurase-coding gene that was under-expressed in the stem cells of most ASD patients of our cohort, disturbing redox homeostasis and synaptogenesis. We now report that a divergent transcription upstream of MOCOS generates an antisense long noncoding RNA, to which we coined the name COSMOC. Surprisingly, COSMOC is strongly under-expressed in all ASD patients of our cohort with the exception of a patient affected by Asperger syndrome. Knockdown studies indicate that loss of COSMOC reduces MOCOS expression, destabilizes lipid and energy metabolisms of stem cells, but also affects neuronal maturation and splicing of synaptic genes. Impaired expression of the COSMOC/MOCOS bidirectional unit might shed new lights on the origins of ASD that could be of importance for future translational studies.

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