Excitatory neuronal CHD8 in the regulation of neocortical development and sensory-motor behaviors

Hanseul Kweon, Won Beom Jung, Geun Ho Im, Jia Ryoo, Joon Hyuk Lee, Hogyeong Do, Yeonsoo Choi, You Hyang Song, Hwajin Jung, Haram Park, Lily R. Qiu, Jacob Ellegood, Hyun Ji Shim, Esther Yang, Hyun Kim, Jason P. Lerch, Seung Hee Lee, Won Suk Chung, Daesoo Kim, Seong Gi KimEunjoon Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


CHD8 (chromodomain helicase DNA-binding protein 8) is a chromatin remodeler associated with autism spectrum disorders. Homozygous Chd8 deletion in mice leads to embryonic lethality, making it difficult to assess whether CHD8 regulates brain development and whether CHD8 haploinsufficiency-related macrocephaly reflects normal CHD8 functions. Here, we report that homozygous conditional knockout of Chd8 restricted to neocortical glutamatergic neurons causes apoptosis-dependent near-complete elimination of neocortical structures. These mice, however, display normal survival and hyperactivity, anxiolytic-like behavior, and increased social interaction. They also show largely normal auditory function and moderately impaired visual and motor functions but enhanced whisker-related somatosensory function. These changes accompany thalamic hyperactivity, revealed by 15.2-Tesla fMRI, and increased intrinsic excitability and decreased inhibitory synaptic transmission in thalamic ventral posterior medial (VPM) neurons involved in somatosensation. These results suggest that excitatory neuronal CHD8 critically regulates neocortical development through anti-apoptotic mechanisms, neocortical elimination distinctly affects cognitive behaviors and sensory-motor functions in mice, and Chd8 haploinsufficiency-related macrocephaly might represent compensatory responses. Kweon et al. report that Chd8 deletion restricted to cortical excitatory neurons in mice leads to near-complete elimination of cortical structures. This accompanies changes in cognitive behaviors and sensory-motor functions, including enhanced whisker-related somatosensory function. Thalamic neurons show strong responses upon whisker stimulation involving altered neuronal excitability and synaptic transmission.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108780
JournalCell Reports
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Feb 23


  • CHD8
  • TRN
  • VPM
  • autism
  • calcium imaging
  • cortex
  • functional MRI
  • neurodevelopment
  • sensory hypersensitivity
  • somatosensory
  • thalamic reticular nucleus
  • thalamus
  • ventral posterior medial
  • whisker

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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