Bardet-Biedl syndrome (BBS) is a rare autosomal recessive disorder caused by mutations in genes encoding components of the primary cilium and is characterized by hyperphagic obesity. To investigate the molecular basis of obesity in human BBS, we developed a cellular model of BBS using induced pluripotent stem cell-derived (iPSC-derived) hypothalamic arcuate-like neurons. BBS mutations BBS1M390R and BBS10C91fsX95 did not affect neuronal differentiation efficiency but caused morphological defects, including impaired neurite outgrowth and longer primary cilia. Single-cell RNA sequencing of BBS1M390R hypothalamic neurons identified several downregulated pathways, including insulin and cAMP signaling and axon guidance. Additional studies demonstrated that BBS1M390R and BBS10C91fsX95 mutations impaired insulin signaling in both human fibroblasts and iPSC-derived neurons. Overexpression of intact BBS10 fully restored insulin signaling by restoring insulin receptor tyrosine phosphorylation in BBS10C91fsX95 neurons. Moreover, mutations in BBS1 and BBS10 impaired leptin-mediated p-STAT3 activation in iPSC-derived hypothalamic neurons. Correction of the BBS mutation by CRISPR rescued leptin signaling. POMC expression and neuropeptide production were decreased in BBS1M390R and BBS10C91fsX95 iPSC-derived hypothalamic neurons. In the aggregate, these data provide insights into the anatomic and functional mechanisms by which components of the BBSome in CNS primary cilia mediate effects on energy homeostasis.
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