Molecular Psychiatry (2023)Cite this article


Pediatric bipolar disorder (PBD) is a severe mood dysregulation condition that affects 0.5–1% of children and teens in the United States. It is associated with recurrent episodes of mania and depression and an increased risk of suicidality. However, the genetics and neuropathology of PBD are largely unknown. Here, we used a combinatorial family-based approach to characterize cellular, molecular, genetic, and network-level deficits associated with PBD. We recruited a PBD patient and three unaffected family members from a family with a history of psychiatric illnesses. Using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI), we detected altered resting-state functional connectivity in the patient as compared to an unaffected sibling. Using transcriptomic profiling of patient and control induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived telencephalic organoids, we found aberrant signaling in the molecular pathways related to neurite outgrowth. We corroborated the presence of neurite outgrowth deficits in patient iPSC-derived cortical neurons and identified a rare homozygous loss-of-function PLXNB1 variant (c.1360C>C; p.Ser454Arg) responsible for the deficits in the patient. Expression of wild-type PLXNB1, but not the variant, rescued neurite outgrowth in patient neurons, and expression of the variant caused the neurite outgrowth deficits in cortical neurons from PlxnB1 knockout mice. These results indicate that dysregulated PLXNB1 signaling may contribute to an increased risk of PBD and other mood dysregulation-related disorders by disrupting neurite outgrowth and functional brain connectivity. Overall, this study established and validated a novel family-based combinatorial approach for studying cellular and molecular deficits in psychiatric disorders and identified dysfunctional PLXNB1 signaling and neurite outgrowth as potential risk factors for PBD.