Increased expression of the 3.1 isoform of the KCNH2 potassium channel has been associated with cognitive dysfunction and with schizophrenia, yet little is known about the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms. Here, by using in vivo wireless local field potential recordings during working memory processing, in vitro brain slice whole-cell patching recordings and in vivo stereotaxic hippocampal injection of AAV-encoded expression, we identified specific and delayed disruption of hippocampal-mPFC synaptic transmission and functional connectivity associated with reductions of SERPING1, CFH, and CD74 in the KCNH2-3.1 overexpression transgenic mice. The differentially expressed genes in mice are enriched in neurons and microglia, and reduced expression of these genes dysregulates the complement cascade, which has been previously linked to synaptic plasticity. We find that knockdown of these genes in primary neuronal–microglial cocultures from KCNH2-3.1 mice impairs synapse formation, and replenishing reduced CFH gene expression rescues KCNH2-3.1-induced impaired synaptogenesis. Translating to humans, we find analogous dysfunctional interactions between hippocampus and prefrontal cortex in coupling of the fMRI blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signal during working memory in healthy subjects carrying alleles associated with increased KCNH2-3.1 expression in brain. Our data uncover a previously unrecognized role of the truncated KCNH2-3.1 potassium channel in mediating complement activation, which may explain its association with altered hippocampal–prefrontal connectivity and synaptic function. These results provide a potential molecular link between increased KCNH2-3.1 expression, synapse alterations, and hippocampal–prefrontal circuit abnormalities implicated in schizophrenia.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience