KCNJ6 is associated with adult alcohol dependence and involved in gene × early life stress interactions in adolescent alcohol drinking.
ABSTRACT: Alcohol abuse and dependence have proven to be complex genetic traits that are influenced by environmental factors. Primate and human studies have shown that early life stress increases the propensity for alcohol abuse in later life. The reinforcing properties of alcohol are mediated by dopaminergic signaling; however, there is little evidence to indicate how stress alters alcohol reinforcement. KCNJ6 (the gene encoding G-protein-coupled inwardly rectifying potassium channel 2 (GIRK2)) is a brain expressed potassium channel with inhibitory effects on dopaminergic tone. The properties of GIRK2 have been shown to be enhanced by the stress peptide corticotrophin-releasing hormone. Therefore, we sought to examine the role of KCNJ6 polymorphisms in adult alcohol dependence and stress-related alcohol abuse in adolescents. We selected 11 SNPs in the promoter region of KCNJ6, which were genotyped in 1152 adult alcohol dependents and 1203 controls. One SNP, rs2836016, was found to be associated with alcohol dependence (p=0.01, false discovery rate). We then assessed rs2836016 in an adolescent sample of 261 subjects, which were characterized for early life stress and adolescent hazardous drinking, defined using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), to examine gene-environment interactions. In the adolescent sample, the risk genotype of rs2836016 was significantly associated with increased AUDIT scores, but only in those individuals exposed to high levels of psychosocial stress in early life (p=0.01). Our findings show that KCNJ6 is associated with alcohol dependence and may moderate the effect of early psychosocial stress on risky alcohol drinking in adolescents. We have identified a candidate gene for future studies investigating a possible functional link between the response to stress and alcohol reinforcement.
Project description:Here, we describe a fourth case of a human with a de novo KCNJ6 (GIRK2) mutation, who presented with clinical findings of severe hyperkinetic movement disorder and developmental delay, similar to the Keppen-Lubinsky syndrome but without lipodystrophy. Whole-exome sequencing of the patient's DNA revealed a heterozygous de novo variant in the KCNJ6 (c.512T>G, p.Leu171Arg). We conducted in vitro functional studies to determine if this Leu-to-Arg mutation alters the function of GIRK2 channels. Heterologous expression of the mutant GIRK2 channel alone produced an aberrant basal inward current that lacked G protein activation, lost K+ selectivity and gained Ca2+ permeability. Notably, the inward current was inhibited by the Na+ channel blocker QX-314, similar to the previously reported weaver mutation in murine GIRK2. Expression of a tandem dimer containing GIRK1 and GIRK2(p.Leu171Arg) did not lead to any currents, suggesting heterotetramers are not functional. In neurons expressing p.Leu171Arg GIRK2 channels, these changes in channel properties would be expected to generate a sustained depolarization, instead of the normal G protein-gated inhibitory response, which could be mitigated by expression of other GIRK subunits. The identification of the p.Leu171Arg GIRK2 mutation potentially expands the Keppen-Lubinsky syndrome phenotype to include severe dystonia and ballismus. Our study suggests screening for dominant KCNJ6 mutations in the evaluation of patients with severe movement disorders, which could provide evidence to support a causal role of KCNJ6 in neurological channelopathies.
Project description:Event-related oscillations (EROs) represent highly heritable neuroelectric correlates of cognitive processes that manifest deficits in alcoholics and in offspring at high risk to develop alcoholism. Theta ERO to targets in the visual oddball task has been shown to be an endophenotype for alcoholism. A family-based genome-wide association study was performed for the frontal theta ERO phenotype using 634 583 autosomal single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) genotyped in 1560 family members from 117 families densely affected by alcohol use disorders, recruited in the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism. Genome-wide significant association was found with several SNPs on chromosome 21 in KCNJ6 (a potassium inward rectifier channel; KIR3.2/GIRK2), with the most significant SNP at P = 4.7 × 10(-10)). The same SNPs were also associated with EROs from central and parietal electrodes, but with less significance, suggesting that the association is frontally focused. One imputed synonymous SNP in exon four, highly correlated with our top three SNPs, was significantly associated with the frontal theta ERO phenotype. These results suggest KCNJ6 or its product GIRK2 account for some of the variations in frontal theta band oscillations. GIRK2 receptor activation contributes to slow inhibitory postsynaptic potentials that modulate neuronal excitability, and therefore influence neuronal networks.
Project description:Alcohol is widely consumed; however, excessive use creates serious physical, psychological and social problems and contributes to the pathogenesis of many diseases. Alcohol use disorders (that is, alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse) are maladaptive patterns of excessive drinking that lead to serious problems. Abundant evidence indicates that alcohol dependence (alcoholism) is a complex genetic disease, with variations in a large number of genes affecting a person's risk of alcoholism. Some of these genes have been identified, including two genes involved in the metabolism of alcohol (ADH1B and ALDH2) that have the strongest known affects on the risk of alcoholism. Studies continue to reveal other genes in which variants affect the risk of alcoholism or related traits, including GABRA2, CHRM2, KCNJ6 and AUTS2. As more variants are analysed and studies are combined for meta-analysis to achieve increased sample sizes, an improved picture of the many genes and pathways that affect the risk of alcoholism will be possible.
Project description:G protein-activated inwardly rectifying K+ channels (GIRK) generate slow inhibitory postsynaptic potentials in the brain via G(i/o) protein-coupled receptors. GIRK2, a GIRK subunit, is widely abundant in the brain and has been implicated in various functions and pathologies, such as learning and memory, reward, motor coordination, and Down syndrome. Down syndrome, the most prevalent cause of mental retardation, results from the presence of an extra maternal chromosome 21 (trisomy 21), which comprises the Kcnj6 gene (GIRK2). The present study examined the behaviors and cellular physiology properties in mice harboring a single trisomy of the Kcnj6 gene. Kcnj6 triploid mice exhibit deficits in hippocampal-dependent learning and memory, altered responses to rewards, hampered depotentiation, a form of excitatory synaptic plasticity, and have accentuated long-term synaptic depression. Collectively the findings suggest that triplication of Kcnj6 gene may play an active role in some of the abnormal neurological phenotypes found in Down syndrome.
Project description:RATIONALE:Genetic and environmental influences on the development of alcohol and drug dependence are equally important. Exposure to early life stress, that is unfortunately common in the general population, has been shown to predict a wide range of psychopathology, including addiction. OBJECTIVE:This review will look at the characteristics of early life stress that may be specific predictors for adolescent and adult alcohol and drug dependence and will focus on studies in humans, non-human primates and rodents. RESULTS:Experiencing maltreatment and cumulative stressful life events prior to puberty and particularly in the first few years of life is associated with early onset of problem drinking in adolescence and alcohol and drug dependence in early adulthood. Early life stress can result in permanent neurohormonal and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis changes, morphological changes in the brain, and gene expression changes in the mesolimbic dopamine reward pathway, all of which are implicated in the development of addiction. However, a large proportion of children who have experienced even severe early life stress do not develop psychopathology indicating that mediating factors such as gene-environment interactions and family and peer relationships are important for resilience. CONCLUSIONS:There appears to be a direct pathway from chronic stress exposure in pre-pubertal children via adolescent problem drinking to alcohol and drug dependence in early adulthood. However, this route can be moderated by genetic and environmental factors. The role that gene-environment interactions play in the risk-resilience balance is being increasingly recognized.
Project description:Limited current information on the epidemiology of lifetime alcohol and cannabis use disorders in the United States is available.To present detailed information about the prevalence and sociodemographic correlates of lifetime alcohol and cannabis use disorders rates in the United States. To examine gender differences in hazard ratios for the onset of alcohol and cannabis dependence.Participants in Wave IV of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (N=15,500, age range: 24-32) were interviewed between 2008 and 2009. Participants who exceeded screening thresholds were queried about lifetime DSM-IV alcohol and marijuana abuse and dependence symptoms. Age of substance dependence onset was queried.Lifetime rates of alcohol abuse and dependence were 11.8 and 13.2%. Lifetime rates of cannabis abuse and dependence were 3.9 and 8.3%. Lifetime alcohol and cannabis dependence onset peaks were 23 and 20. Correlates of lifetime alcohol abuse included being male (OR 1.4), African-American (OR 0.7), income in the 2nd or 3rd quartile (OR 0.7 and 0.6). Correlates of lifetime alcohol dependence were: being male (OR 1.8), African-American (OR 0.5), and never being married (OR 1.5), and regions outside of the west (Midwest OR 0.7, South OR 0.6, Northeast OR 0.6). Correlates of cannabis abuse and dependence were being male (OR 1.8 and 1.4).Lifetime alcohol and cannabis use disorders are highly prevalent in the US population. Men are at higher risk for alcohol and cannabis use disorders. Alcohol use disorders demonstrated specific sociodemographic correlates while marijuana use disorders did not.
Project description:Previous studies have shown associations between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in gamma aminobutyric acid receptor alpha 2 (GABRA2) and adolescent conduct disorder (CD) and alcohol dependence in adulthood, but not adolescent alcohol dependence. The present study was intended as a replication and extension of this work, focusing on adolescent CD, adolescent alcohol abuse and dependence (AAD), and adult AAD. Family based association tests were run using Hispanics and non-Hispanic European American subjects from two independent longitudinal samples. Although the analysis provided nominal support for an association with rs9291283 and AAD in adulthood and CD in adolescence, the current study failed to replicate previous associations between two well replicated GABRA2 SNPs and CD and alcohol dependence. Overall, these results emphasize the utility of including an independent replication sample in the study design, so that the results from an individual sample can be weighted in the context of its reproducibility.
Project description:Alcohol-related harms may be increased among adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) involved in sex work, yet data on alcohol misuse among AGYW in sub-Saharan Africa are still scarce. We conducted a cross-sectional study among 15-24-year-old AGYW from January 2013 to December 2018 in Kampala, Uganda and used the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT) to study alcohol use patterns and dependence symptoms (dependence score ?4). Of 1440 participants (median age 21 years), 83.1% had less than secondary education, 79.8% reported ?10 paying sexual partners in the past month, 46.0% had ever experienced intimate partner violence (IPV), and 20.6% were living with HIV. Overall, 59.9% scored ?8 and 29.4% scored ?16 on the AUDIT. Of 277 (15.8%) with dependence symptoms, 69.1% were screened alcohol dependent. An AUDIT score ?8 was associated with older age, illicit drug use, experiencing IPV, inconsistent condom use with paying partners, and HIV sero-negativity. All factors remained associated with a higher score ?16 except HIV status. Similarly, illicit drug use, experiencing IPV and inconsistent condom use were associated with dependence symptoms and, in addition, a higher number of paying sexual partners. Alcohol misuse is high in this population, they urgently need harmful substance use reduction interventions.
Project description:According to recent WHO reports, alcohol remains the number one substance used and abused by adolescents, despite public health efforts to curb its use. Adolescence is a critical period of biological maturation where brain development, particularly the mesocorticolimbic dopamine system, undergoes substantial remodeling. These circuits are implicated in complex decision making, incentive learning and reinforcement during substance use and abuse. An appealing theoretical approach has been to suggest that alcohol alters the normal development of these processes to promote deficits in reinforcement learning and decision making, which together make individuals vulnerable to developing substance use disorders in adulthood. Previously we have used a preclinical model of voluntary alcohol intake in rats to show that use in adolescence promotes risky decision making in adulthood that is mirrored by selective perturbations in dopamine network dynamics. Further, we have demonstrated that incentive learning processes in adulthood are also altered by adolescent alcohol use, again mirrored by changes in cue-evoked dopamine signaling. Indeed, we have proposed that these two processes, risk-based decision making and incentive learning, are fundamentally linked through dysfunction of midbrain circuitry where inputs to the dopamine system are disrupted by adolescent alcohol use. Here, we test the behavioral predictions of this model in rats and present the findings in the context of the prevailing literature with reference to the long-term consequences of early-life substance use on the vulnerability to develop substance use disorders. We utilize an impulsive choice task to assess the selectivity of alcohol's effect on decision-making profiles and conditioned reinforcement to parse out the effect of incentive value attribution, one mechanism of incentive learning. Finally, we use the differential reinforcement of low rates of responding (DRL) task to examine the degree to which behavioral disinhibition may contribute to an overall decision-making profile. The findings presented here support the proposition that early life alcohol use selectively alters risk-based choice behavior through modulation of incentive learning processes, both of which may be inexorably linked through perturbations in mesolimbic circuitry and may serve as fundamental vulnerabilities to the development of substance use disorders.
Project description:Event related oscillations (EROs) are heritable measures of neurocognitive function that have served as useful phenotype in genetic research. A recent family genome-wide association study (GWAS) by the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA) found that theta EROs during visual target detection were associated at genome-wide levels with several single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), including a synonymous SNP, rs702859, in the KCNJ6 gene that encodes GIRK2, a G-protein inward rectifying potassium channel that regulates excitability of neuronal networks. The present study examined the effect of the KCNJ6 SNP (rs702859), previously associated with theta ERO to targets in a visual oddball task, on theta EROs during reward processing in a monetary gambling task. The participants were 1601 adolescent and young adult offspring within the age-range of 17-25years (800 males and 801 females) from high-dense alcoholism families as well as control families of the COGA prospective study. Theta ERO power (3.5-7.5Hz, 200-500ms post-stimulus) was compared across genotype groups. ERO theta power at central and parietal regions increased as a function of the minor allele (A) dose in the genotype (AA>AG>GG) in both loss and gain conditions. These findings indicate that variations in the KCNJ6 SNP influence magnitude of theta oscillations at posterior loci during the evaluation of loss and gain, reflecting a genetic influence on neuronal circuits involved in reward-processing. Increased theta power as a function of minor allele dose suggests more efficient cognitive processing in those carrying the minor allele of the KCNJ6 SNPs. Future studies are needed to determine the implications of these genetic effects on posterior theta EROs as possible "protective" factors, or as indices of delays in brain maturation (i.e., lack of frontalization).