GABAergic interneuron development and function is modulated by the Tsc1 gene.


Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is a genetic disease with severe neurologic and psychiatric manifestations including epilepsy, developmental delay, and autism. Despite much progress in defining abnormal signaling pathways including the contribution of increased mTORC1 signaling, specific abnormalities that underlie the severe neurologic features in TSC remain poorly understood. We hypothesized that epilepsy and autism in TSC result from abnormalities of γ-aminobutyric acidergic (GABAergic) interneurons. To test this hypothesis, we generated conditional knockout mice with selective deletion of the Tsc1 gene in GABAergic interneuron progenitor cells. These interneuron-specific Tsc1 conditional knockout (CKO) mice have impaired growth and decreased survival. Cortical and hippocampal GABAergic interneurons of CKO mice are enlarged and show increased mTORC1 signaling. Total numbers of GABAergic cells are reduced in the cortex with differential reduction of specific GABAergic subtypes. Ectopic clusters of cells with increased mTORC1 signaling are also seen suggesting impaired interneuron migration. The functional consequences of these cellular changes are evident in the decreased seizure threshold on exposure to the proconvulsant flurothyl. These findings support an important role for the Tsc1 gene during GABAergic interneuron development, function, and possibly migration.