Hum Mol Genet. 2020 Feb 1;29(3):459-470. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddz305.
Autism spectrum disorders are associated with some degree of developmental regression in up to 30% of all cases. Rarely, however, is the regression so extreme that a developmentally advanced young child would lose almost all ability to communicate and interact with her surroundings. We applied trio whole exome sequencing to a young woman who experienced extreme developmental regression starting at 2.5 years of age and identified compound heterozygous nonsense mutations in TMPRSS9, which encodes for polyserase-1, a transmembrane serine protease of poorly understood physiological function. Using semiquantitative polymerase chain reaction, we showed that Tmprss9 is expressed in various mouse tissues, including the brain. To study the consequences of TMPRSS9 loss of function on the mammalian brain, we generated a knockout mouse model. Through a battery of behavioral assays, we found that Tmprss9-/- mice showed decreased social interest and social recognition. We observed a borderline recognition memory deficit by novel object recognition in aged Tmprss9-/- female mice, but not in aged Tmprss9-/- male mice or younger adult Tmprss9-/- mice in both sexes. This study provides evidence to suggest that loss of function variants in TMPRSS9 are related to an autism spectrum disorder. However, the identification of more individuals with similar phenotypes and TMPRSS9 loss of function variants is required to establish a robust gene-disease relationship.