Atypical Neocortical Development in the Cited2 Conditional Knockout Leads to Behavioral Deficits Associated with Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Nikolaus R. Wagner, Jessica L. MacDonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The mammalian neocortex develops from a single layer of neuroepithelial cells to form a six-layer heterogeneous mosaic of differentiated neurons and glial cells. This process requires a complex choreography of temporally and spatially restricted transcription factors and epigenetic regulators. Even subtle disruptions in this regulation can alter the way the neocortex forms and functions, leading to a neurodevelopmental disorder. One epigenetic regulator that is essential for the precise development of the neocortex is CITED2 (CBP/p300 Interacting Transactivator with ED-rich termini). Cited2 is highly expressed by intermediate progenitor cells in the subventricular zone during the generation of the superficial layers of the neocortex. A forebrain-specific conditional knockout of Cited2 (cKO) exhibits reduced proliferation of intermediate progenitor cells embryonically, leading to reduced thickness of the superficial layers and reduced corpus callosum (CC) volume postnatally. Further, the Cited2 cKO display disruptions in balanced neocortical arealization, with a specific reduction in the somatosensory neocortical length, and dysregulation of precise, area-specific neuronal connectivity. Here, we explore the behavioral consequences resulting from this aberrant neocortical development. We demonstrate that Cited2 cKO mice display decreased maternal separation-induced ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) as neonates, and an increase in rearing behavior and lack of habituation following repeated acoustic startle as adults. They do not display alterations in anxiety-like behavior, overall locomotor activity, or social interactions. Together with the morphological, molecular, and connectivity disruptions, these results identify the Cited2 cKO neocortex as an ideal system to study mechanisms underlying neurodevelopmental and neuroanatomical disruptions with relevance to human neurodevelopmental disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-78
Number of pages14
StatePublished - Feb 10 2021


  • cortical dysfunction
  • sensory filtering deficits
  • somatosensory cortex
  • ultrasonic vocalizations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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