RPP25 is developmentally regulated in prefrontal cortex and expressed at decreased levels in autism spectrum disorder



Dysfunction of cerebral cortex in autism is thought to involve alterations in inhibitory neurotransmission. Here, we screened, in prefrontal cortex (PFC) of 15 subjects diagnosed with autism and 15 matched controls the expression of 44 transcripts that are either preferentially expressed in gamma-aminobutyric acidergic interneurons of the mature cortex or important for the development of inhibitory circuitry. Significant alterations in the autism cohort included decreased expression (−45%) of RPP25 (15q24.1), which is located within the autism susceptibility locus, 15q22-26. RPP25, which encodes the 25 kDa subunit of ribonuclease P involved in tRNA and pre-ribosomal RNA processing, was developmentally regulated in cerebral cortex with peak levels of expression during late fetal development (human) or around birth (mouse). In the PFC, RPP25 chromatin showed high levels of histone H3-lysine 4 trimethylation, an epigenetic mark associated with transcriptional regulation. Unexpectedly, and in contrast to peripheral tissues, levels of RPP25 protein remained undetectable in fetal and adult cerebral cortex. Taken together, these findings suggest a potential role for the RPP25 gene transcript in the neurobiology of developmental brain disorders.