Astrocytic β-catenin signaling via TCF7L2 regulates synapse development and social behavior.
Szewczyk LM., Lipiec MA., Liszewska E., Meyza K., Urban-Ciecko J., Kondrakiewicz L., Goncerzewicz A., Rafalko K., Krawczyk TG., Bogaj K., Vainchtein ID., Nakao-Inoue H., Puscian A., Knapska E., Sanders SJ., Jan Nowakowski T., Molofsky AV., Wisniewska MB.
The Wnt/β-catenin pathway contains multiple high-confidence risk genes that are linked to neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorder. However, its ubiquitous roles across brain cell types and developmental stages have made it challenging to define its impact on neural circuit development and behavior. Here, we show that TCF7L2, which is a key transcriptional effector of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway, plays a cell-autonomous role in postnatal astrocyte maturation and impacts adult social behavior. TCF7L2 was the dominant Wnt effector that was expressed in both mouse and human astrocytes, with a peak during astrocyte maturation. The conditional knockout of Tcf7l2 in postnatal astrocytes led to an enlargement of astrocytes with defective tiling and gap junction coupling. These mice also exhibited an increase in the number of cortical excitatory and inhibitory synapses and a marked increase in social interaction by adulthood. These data reveal an astrocytic role for developmental Wnt/β-catenin signaling in restricting excitatory synapse numbers and regulating adult social behavior.