Association between TCF4 and schizophrenia does not exert its effect by common nonsynonymous variation or by influencing cis-acting regulation of mRNA expression in adult human brain.
ABSTRACT: Large collaborative Genome-wide Association studies of schizophrenia have identified genes and genomic regions that are associated with the disorder at highly stringent levels of statistical significance. Among these, transcription factor 4 (TCF4) is one of the best supported although the associated SNP (rs9960767) is located within intron 3 and has no obvious function. Seeking the mechanism at TCF responsible for the association, we examined TCF4 for coding variants, and for cis regulated variation in TCF4 gene expression correlated with the associated SNP using an assay to detect differential allelic expression. Using data from the 1000 genomes project, we were unable to identify any nonsynonymous coding variants at the locus. Allele specific expression analysis using human post mortem brain samples revealed no evidence for cis-regulated mRNA expression related to genotype at the schizophrenia associated SNP. We conclude that association between schizophrenia and TCF4 is not mediated by a relatively common non-synonymous variant, or by a variant that alters mRNA expression as measured in adult human brain. It remains possible that the risk allele at this locus exerts effects on expression exclusively in a developmental context, in cell types or brain regions not adequately represented in our analysis, or through post-transcriptional effects, for example in the abundance of the protein or its sub-cellular distribution.
Project description:TCF4 is involved in neurodevelopment, and intergenic and intronic variants in or close to the TCF4 gene have been associated with susceptibility to schizophrenia. However, the functional role of TCF4 at the level of gene expression and relationship to severity of core psychotic phenotypes are not known. TCF4 mRNA expression level in peripheral blood was determined in a large sample of patients with psychosis spectrum disorders (n = 596) and healthy controls (n = 385). The previously identified TCF4 risk variants (rs12966547 (G), rs9960767 (C), rs4309482 (A), rs2958182 (T) and rs17512836 (C)) were tested for association with characteristic psychosis phenotypes, including neurocognitive traits, psychotic symptoms and structural magnetic resonance imaging brain morphometric measures, using a linear regression model. Further, we explored the association of additional 59 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) covering the TCF4 gene to these phenotypes. The rs12966547 and rs4309482 risk variants were associated with poorer verbal fluency in the total sample. There were significant associations of other TCF4 SNPs with negative symptoms, verbal learning, executive functioning and age at onset in psychotic patients and brain abnormalities in total sample. The TCF4 mRNA expression level was significantly increased in psychosis patients compared with controls and positively correlated with positive- and negative-symptom levels. The increase in TCF4 mRNA expression level in psychosis patients and the association of TCF4 SNPs with core psychotic phenotypes across clinical, cognitive and brain morphological domains support that common TCF4 variants are involved in psychosis pathology, probably related to abnormal neurodevelopment.
Project description:Objective: Schizophrenia is thought to be a neurodevelopmental disorder. As a key regulator in the development of the central nervous system, transcription factor 4 (TCF4) has been shown to be involved in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia. The aim of our study was to assay the association of TCF4 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) with schizophrenia and the effect of these SNPs on phenotypic variability in schizophrenia in Southern Chinese Han Population. Methods: Four SNPs (rs9960767, rs2958182, rs4309482, and rs12966547) of TCF4 were genotyped in 1137 schizophrenic patients and 1035 controls in a Southern Chinese Han population using the improved multiplex ligation detection reaction (iMLDR) technique. For patients with schizophrenia, the severity of symptom phenotypes was analyzed by the five-factor model of the Positive and Negative Symptom Scale (PANSS). Cognitive function was assessed using the Brief Assessment of Cognition in Schizophrenia (BACS) scale. Results: The results showed that the genotypes and alleles of the three SNPs (rs2958182, rs4309482, and rs12966547) were not significantly different between the control group and the case group (all P > 0.05). rs9960767 could not be included in the statistics for the extremely low minor allele frequency. However, the genotypes of rs4309482 shown a potential risk in the positive symptoms (P = 0.04) and excitement symptoms (P = 0.04) of the five-factor model of PANSS, but not survived in multiple test correction. The same potential risk was shown in the rs12966547 in positive symptoms of the PANSS (P = 0.03). Conclusion: Our results failed to find the associations of SNPs (rs2958182, rs4309482, and rs12966547) in TCF4 with schizophrenia in Southern Chinese Han Population.
Project description:In a large-scale meta-analysis, it has been recently shown that the transcription factor 4 (TCF4) gene is among the most prominent susceptibility genes for schizophrenia. Moreover, transgenic mice overexpressing TCF4 in the brain display a reduction of sensorimotor gating measured by prepulse inhibition (PPI) of the acoustic startle response (ASR). PPI is heritable and has been established as an important translational endophenotype of schizophrenia. We therefore investigated the impact of the schizophrenia susceptibility gene TCF4 (rs9960767) on sensorimotor gating of the ASR in healthy humans and in patients with a schizophrenia spectrum disorder. We assessed PPI, startle reactivity, and habituation of the ASR in two independent samples. The first sample consisted of 107 healthy volunteers from London, UK. The second sample was a schizophrenia spectrum group (n = 113) of 73 schizophrenia patients and 40 individuals at high risk for schizophrenia from Bonn, Germany (total sample n = 220). In both samples, PPI was strongly decreased in carriers of the schizophrenia risk allele C of the TCF4 gene (meta-analysis across both samples: p = 0.00002), whereas startle reactivity and habituation were unaffected by TCF4 genotype. Sensorimotor gating is modulated by TCF4 genotype, indicating an influential role of TCF4 gene variations in the development of early information-processing deficits in schizophrenia.
Project description:Several polymorphisms of the transcription factor 4 (TCF4) have been shown to increase the risk for schizophrenia, particularly TCF4 rs9960767. This polymorphism is associated with impaired sensorimotor gating measured by prepulse inhibition--an established endophenotype of schizophrenia. We therefore investigated whether TCF4 polymorphisms also affect another proposed endophenotype of schizophrenia, namely sensory gating assessed by P50 suppression of the auditory evoked potential. Although sensorimotor gating and sensory gating are not identical, recent data suggest that they share genetic fundamentals. In a multicenter study at six academic institutions throughout Germany, we applied an auditory P50 suppression paradigm to 1,821 subjects (1,023 never-smokers, 798 smokers) randomly selected from the general population. Samples were genotyped for 21 TCF4 polymorphisms. Given that smoking is highly prevalent in schizophrenia and affects sensory gating, we also assessed smoking behavior, cotinine plasma concentrations, exhaled carbon monoxide, and the Fagerström Test (FTND). P50 suppression was significantly decreased in carriers of schizophrenia risk alleles of the TCF4 polymorphisms rs9960767, rs10401120rs, rs17597926, and 17512836 (P < 0.0002-0.00005). These gene effects were modulated by smoking behavior as indicated by significant interactions of TCF4 genotype and smoking status; heavy smokers (FTND score ? 4) showed stronger gene effects on P50 suppression than light smokers and never-smokers. Our finding suggests that sensory gating is modulated by an interaction of TCF4 genotype with smoking, and both factors may play a role in early information processing deficits also in schizophrenia. Consequently, considering smoking behavior may facilitate the search for genetic risk factors for schizophrenia.
Project description:Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the MIR137, TCF4, and ZNF804A genes show genome-wide association to schizophrenia. However, the biological basis for the associations is unknown. Here, we tested the effects of these genes on brain structure in 1300 healthy adults. Using volumetry and voxel-based morphometry, neither gene-wide effects--including the combined effect of the genes--nor single SNP effects--including specific psychosis risk SNPs--were found on total brain volume, grey matter, white matter, or hippocampal volume. These results suggest that the associations between these risk genes and schizophrenia are unlikely to be mediated via effects on macroscopic brain structure.
Project description:Genome-wide association studies allied with the identification of rare copy number variants have provided important insights into the genetic risk factors for schizophrenia. Recently, a meta-analysis of several genome-wide association studies found, in addition to several other markers, a single nucleotide polymorphism in intron 4 of the TCF4 gene that was associated with schizophrenia. TCF4 encodes a basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor that interacts with other transcription factors to activate or repress gene expression. TCF4 mutations also cause Pitt-Hopkins Syndrome, an autosomal-dominant neurodevelopmental disorder associated with severe mental retardation. Variants in the TCF4 gene may therefore be associated with a range of neuropsychiatric phenotypes, including schizophrenia. Recessive forms of Pitt-Hopkins syndrome are caused by mutations in NRXN1 and CNTNAP2. Interestingly, NRXN1 deletions have been reported in schizophrenia, whereas CNTNAP2 variants are associated with several neuropsychiatric phenotypes. These data suggest that TCF4, NRXN1, and CNTNAP2 may participate in a biological pathway that is altered in patients with schizophrenia and other neuropsychiatric disorders.
Project description:Deficits in the gating of sensory stimuli, i.e., the ability to suppress the processing of irrelevant sensory input, are considered to play an important role in the pathogenesis of several neuropsychiatric disorders, in particular schizophrenia. Gating is disrupted both in schizophrenia patients and their unaffected relatives, suggesting that gating deficit may represent a biomarker associated with a genetic liability to the disorder. To assess the strength of the evidence for the etiopathogenetic links between genetic variation, gating efficiency, and schizophrenia, we carried out a systematic review of human genetic association studies of sensory gating (suppression of the P50 component of the auditory event-related brain potential) and sensorimotor gating (prepulse inhibition of the acoustic startle response). Sixty-three full-text articles met the eligibility criteria for inclusion in the review. In total, 117 genetic variants were reported to be associated with gating functions: 33 variants for sensory gating, 80 variants for sensorimotor gating, and four variants for both sensory and sensorimotor gating. However, only five of these associations (four for prepulse inhibition-CHRNA3 rs1317286, COMT rs4680, HTR2A rs6311, and TCF4 rs9960767, and one for P50 suppression-CHRNA7 rs67158670) were consistently replicated in independent samples. Although these variants and genes were all implicated in schizophrenia in research studies, only two polymorphisms (<i>HTR2A</i> rs6311 and <i>TCF4</i> rs9960767) were also reported to be associated with schizophrenia at a meta-analytic or genome-wide level of evidence. Thus, although gating is widely considered as an important endophenotype of schizophrenia, these findings demonstrate that evidence for a common genetic etiology of impaired gating functions and schizophrenia is yet unsatisfactory, warranting further studies in this field.
Project description:The basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor 4 (TCF4) had been identified as a susceptibility gene associated with schizophrenia (SCZ) by GWAS, but inconsistent results have been found in other studies. To validate these findings and to reveal the effects of different inheritance models, rs2958182, rs1261085, rs8766, and rs12966547 of the TCF4 gene were genotyped in the Northwest Han Chinese population (448 cases and 628 controls) via a multiplex polymerase chain reaction SNPscan assay. Single SNP, genotype, and association analyses with three different models were performed. We observed genotype and allele distributions of four SNPs that showed nonsignificant associations in the Northwest Han Chinese population. However, published datasets (51,892 cases and 68,498 controls) were collected and combined with our experimental results to ascertain the association of the TCF4 gene SNPs and SCZ, which demonstrated that rs2958182 (P=0.003) was a significant signal based on a systematic meta-analysis. To clarify the biological role of rs2958182, it is important to improve the understanding of the pathophysiology of SCZ.
Project description:Identifying the genetic cis associations between DNA variants (single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs)) and gene expression in brain tissue may be a promising approach to find functionally relevant pathways that contribute to the etiology of psychiatric disorders. In this study, we examined the association between genetic variations and gene expression in prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, temporal cortex, thalamus and cerebellum in subjects with psychiatric disorders and in normal controls. We identified cis associations between 648 transcripts and 6725 SNPs in the various brain regions. Several SNPs showed brain regional-specific associations. The expression level of only one gene, PDE4DIP, was associated with a SNP, rs12124527, in all the brain regions tested here. From our data, we generated a list of brain cis expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) genes that we compared with a list of schizophrenia candidate genes downloaded from the Schizophrenia Forum (SZgene) database (http://www.szgene.org/). Of the SZgene candidate genes, we found that the expression levels of four genes, HTR2A, PLXNA2, SRR and TCF4, were significantly associated with cis SNPs in at least one brain region tested. One gene, SRR, was also involved in a coexpression module that we found to be associated with disease status. In addition, a substantial number of cis eQTL genes were also involved in the module, suggesting eQTL analysis of brain tissue may identify more reliable susceptibility genes for schizophrenia than case-control genetic association analyses. In an attempt to facilitate the identification of genetic variations that may underlie the etiology of major psychiatric disorders, we have integrated the brain eQTL results into a public and online database, Stanley Neuropathology Consortium Integrative Database (SNCID; http://sncid.stanleyresearch.org).
Project description:Haploinsufficiency of TCF4 causes Pitt-Hopkins syndrome (PTHS): a severe form of mental retardation with phenotypic similarities to Angelman, Mowat-Wilson and Rett syndromes. Genome-wide association studies have also found that common variants in TCF4 are associated with an increased risk of schizophrenia. Although TCF4 is transcription factor, little is known about TCF4-regulated processes in the brain. In this study we used genome-wide expression profiling to determine the effects of acute TCF4 knockdown on gene expression in SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells. We identified 1204 gene expression changes (494 upregulated, 710 downregulated) in TCF4 knockdown cells. Pathway and enrichment analysis on the differentially expressed genes in TCF4-knockdown cells identified an over-representation of genes involved in TGF-? signaling, epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) and apoptosis. Among the most significantly differentially expressed genes were the EMT regulators, SNAI2 and DEC1 and the proneural genes, NEUROG2 and ASCL1. Altered expression of several mental retardation genes such as UBE3A (Angelman Syndrome), ZEB2 (Mowat-Wilson Syndrome) and MEF2C was also found in TCF4-depleted cells. These data suggest that TCF4 regulates a number of convergent signaling pathways involved in cell differentiation and survival in addition to a subset of clinically important mental retardation genes.