In schizophrenia (SCZ), neurons in the brain tend to undergo gross morphological changes, but the related molecular mechanism remains largely elusive. Using Kif3b+/- mice as a model with SCZ-like behaviors, we found that a high-betaine diet can significantly alleviate schizophrenic traits related to neuronal morphogenesis and behaviors. According to a deficiency in the transport of collapsin response mediator protein 2 (CRMP2) by the KIF3 motor, we identified a significant reduction in lamellipodial dynamics in developing Kif3b+/- neurons as a cause of neurite hyperbranching. Betaine administration significantly decreases CRMP2 carbonylation, which enhances the F-actin bundling needed for proper lamellipodial dynamics and microtubule exclusion and may thus functionally compensate for KIF3 deficiency. Because the KIF3 expression levels tend to be downregulated in the human prefrontal cortex of the postmortem brains of SCZ patients, this mechanism may partly participate in human SCZ pathogenesis, which we hypothesize could be alleviated by betaine administration.
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