C2H2-Type Zinc Finger Proteins in Brain Development, Neurodevelopmental, and Other Neuropsychiatric Disorders: Systematic Literature-Based Analysis

Njoud Al-Naama, Rafah Mackeh, Tomoshige Kino

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) are multifaceted pathologic conditions manifested with intellectual disability, autistic features, psychiatric problems, motor dysfunction, and/or genetic/chromosomal abnormalities. They are associated with skewed neurogenesis and brain development, in part through dysfunction of the neural stem cells (NSCs) where abnormal transcriptional regulation on key genes play significant roles. Recent accumulated evidence highlights C2H2-type zinc finger proteins (C2H2-ZNFs), the largest transcription factor family in humans, as important targets for the pathologic processes associated with NDDs. In this review, we identified their significant accumulation (74 C2H2-ZNFs: ~10% of all human member proteins) in brain physiology and pathology. Specifically, we discuss their physiologic contribution to brain development, particularly focusing on their actions in NSCs. We then explain their pathologic implications in various forms of NDDs, such as morphological brain abnormalities, intellectual disabilities, and psychiatric disorders. We found an important tendency that poly-ZNFs and KRAB-ZNFs tend to be involved in the diseases that compromise gross brain structure and human-specific higher-order functions, respectively. This may be consistent with their characteristic appearance in the course of species evolution and corresponding contribution to these brain activities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number32
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
Publication statusPublished - 14 Feb 2020



  • brain development
  • KRAB domain
  • mutation
  • neural stem cells
  • structural abnormality
  • transcriptional regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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