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Schoof, Melanie; Hellwig, Malte; Harrison, Luke; Holdhof, Doerthe; Lauffer, Marlen C.; Niesen, Judith; Virdi, Sanamjeet; Indenbirken, Daniela; Schüller, Ulrich (2020): The basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor TCF4 impacts brain architecture as well as neuronal morphology and differentiation. In: European Journal of Neuroscience, Vol. 51, No. 11: pp. 2219-2235
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Germline mutations in the basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor 4 (TCF4) cause the Pitt-Hopkins syndrome (PTHS), a developmental disorder with severe intellectual disability. Here, we report findings from a new mouse model with a central nervous system-specific truncation of Tcf4 leading to severe phenotypic abnormalities. Furthermore, it allows the study of a complete TCF4 knockout in adult mice, circumventing early postnatal lethality of previously published mouse models. Our data suggest that a TCF4 truncation results in an impaired hippocampal architecture affecting both the dentate gyrus as well as the cornu ammonis. In the cerebral cortex, loss of TCF4 generates a severe differentiation delay of neural precursors. Furthermore, neuronal morphology was critically affected with shortened apical dendrites and significantly increased branching of dendrites. Our data provide novel information about the role of Tcf4 in brain development and may help to understand the mechanisms leading to intellectual deficits observed in patients suffering from PTHS.