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A survey of RNA editing at single cell resolution links interneurons to schizophrenia and autism
RNA  (IF4.942),  Pub Date : 2021-09-17, DOI: 10.1261/rna.078804.121
Brendan Robert E. Ansell, Simon N Thomas, Roberto Bonelli, Jacob E Munro, Saskia Freytag, Melanie Bahlo

BACKGROUND: Conversion of adenosine to inosine in RNA by ADAR enzymes occurs at thousands of sites in the human transcriptome, and is essential for healthy brain development. This editing process is dysregulated in many neuropsychiatric diseases, but has not yet been investigated at the level of individual neurons. METHODS: We quantified RNA editing sites in full-length capture nuclear transcriptomes of 3055 neurons from six cortical regions of a neurotypical post-mortem female donor. Putative editing sites were intersected with sites in bulk human tissue transcriptomes including healthy and neuropsychiatric brain tissue, and sites identified in single nuclei from unrelated brain donors. Differential editing between cell types and cortical regions, and individual sites and genes therein, was quantified using linear models. Associations between gene abundance and editing were also tested. RESULTS: We identified 41,930 RNA editing sites with robust read coverage in at least ten neuronal nuclei. Most sites were located within Alu repeats in introns or 3’ UTRs, and approximately 80% were catalogued in published RNA editing databases. We identified 9285 putative novel RNA editing sites, 29% of which were also detectable in neuronal transcriptomes from unrelated donors. Among the strongest correlates of global editing rates were snoRNAs from the SNORD115 and SNORD116 cluster (15q11), known to modulate serotonin receptor processing and to colocalize with ADAR2. Autism related genes were enriched with editing sites predicted to modify RNA structure. Inhibitory neurons showed higher overall transcriptome editing than excitatory neurons. Additionally, we identified 29 genes preferentially edited in excitatory neurons and 43 genes edited more heavily in inhibitory neurons including RBFOX1, its target genes, and small nucleolar RNA-associated genes in the autism-associated Prader-Willi locus 15q11. These results provide cell-type and spatial context for 1730 sites that are differentially edited in the brains of schizophrenic patients, and 910 sites in autistic patients. CONCLUSIONS: RNA editing, including thousands of previously unreported sites, is robustly detectable in single neuronal nuclei, where gene editing differences are stronger between cell subtypes than between cortical regions. Insufficient editing of autism-related genes in inhibitory neurons may manifest in the specific perturbation of these cells in autism.