AK Nicholas, M Khurshid, J Désir, OP Carvalho, JJ Cox, G Thornton, R Kausar, M Ansar, W Ahmad, A Verloes, S Passemard, J-P Misson, S Lindsay, F Gergely, WB Dobyns, E Roberts, M Abramowicz, CG Woods
Autosomal recessive primary microcephaly (MCPH) is a disorder of neurodevelopment resulting in a small brain. We identified WDR62 as the second most common cause of MCPH after finding homozygous missense and frame-shifting mutations in seven MCPH families. In human cell lines, we found that WDR62 is a spindle pole protein, as are ASPM and STIL, the MCPH7 and MCHP7 proteins. Mutant WDR62 proteins failed to localize to the mitotic spindle pole. In human and mouse embryonic brain, we found that WDR62 expression was restricted to neural precursors undergoing mitosis. These data lend support to the hypothesis that the exquisite control of the cleavage furrow orientation in mammalian neural precursor cell mitosis, controlled in great part by the centrosomes and spindle poles, is critical both in causing MCPH when perturbed and, when modulated, generating the evolutionarily enlarged human brain.