Evaluation of the effects of the T-type calcium channel enhancer SAK3 in a rat model of TAF1 deficiency

Chinnasamy Dhanalakshmi, Udaiyappan Janakiraman, Aubin Moutal, Kohji Fukunaga, Rajesh Khanna, Mark A. Nelson

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1 Scopus citations


The TATA-box binding protein associated factor 1 (TAF1) is part of the TFIID complex that plays a key role during the initiation of transcription. Variants of TAF1 are associated with neurodevelopmental disorders. Previously, we found that CRISPR/Cas9 based editing of the TAF1 gene disrupts the morphology of the cerebral cortex and blunts the expression as well as the function of the CaV3.1 (T-type) voltage gated calcium channel. Here, we tested the efficacy of SAK3 (ethyl 8′-methyl-2′, 4-dioxo-2-(piperidin-1-yl)-2′H-spiro [cyclopentane-1, 3′-imidazo [1, 2-a] pyridine]-2-ene-3-carboxylate), a T-type calcium channel enhancer, in an animal model of TAF1 intellectual disability (ID) syndrome. At post-natal day 3, rat pups were subjected to intracerebroventricular (ICV) injection of either gRNA-control or gRNA-TAF1 CRISPR/Cas9 viruses. At post-natal day 21, the rat pups were given SAK3 (0.25 mg/kg, p.o.) or vehicle for 14 days (i.e. till post-natal day 35) and then subjected to behavioral, morphological, and molecular studies. Oral administration of SAK3 (0.25 mg/kg, p.o.) significantly rescued locomotion abnormalities associated with TAF1 gene editing. SAK3 treatment prevented the loss of cortical neurons and GFAP-positive astrocytes observed after TAF1 gene editing. In addition, SAK3 protected cells from apoptosis. SAK3 also restored the Brain-derived neurotrophic factor/protein kinase B/Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 Beta (BDNF/AKT/GSK3β) signaling axis in TAF1 edited animals. Finally, SAK3 normalized the levels of three GSK3β substrates - CaV3.1, FOXP2, and CRMP2. We conclude that the T-type calcium channel enhancer SAK3 is beneficial against the deleterious effects of TAF1 gene-editing, in part, by stimulating the BDNF/AKT/GSK3β signaling pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105224
JournalNeurobiology of Disease
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • CaV3.1
  • Cerebral cortex
  • Intellectual disability syndrome
  • SAK3
  • TAF1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology


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