Mutations in a number of chromatin modifiers are associated with human neurological disorders. KDM5C, a histone H3 lysine 4 di- and tri-methyl (H3K4me2/3)-specific demethylase, is frequently mutated in X-linked intellectual disability (XLID) patients. Here, we report that disruption of the mouse Kdm5c gene recapitulates adaptive and cognitive abnormalities observed in XLID, including impaired social behavior, memory deficits, and aggression. Kdm5c-knockout brains exhibit abnormal dendritic arborization, spine anomalies, and altered transcriptomes. In neurons, Kdm5c is recruited to promoters that harbor CpG islands decorated with high levels of H3K4me3, where it fine-tunes H3K4me3 levels. Kdm5c predominantly represses these genes, which include members of key pathways that regulate the development and function of neuronal circuitries. In summary, our mouse behavioral data strongly suggest that KDM5C mutations are causal to XLID. Furthermore, our findings suggest that loss of KDM5C function may impact gene expression in multiple regulatory pathways relevant to the clinical phenotypes. In this study, Iwase et al. characterize Kdm5c-knockout mice to model an important class of intellectual disability. Kdm5c-knockout mice show limited learning, heightened aggression, and dendritic spine defects. Kdm5c is a histone demethylase, and the authors identify altered transcriptional profiles in Kdm5c-knockout brains and investigate the molecular changes in neurons.
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