Expression quantitative trait loci in the developing human brain and their enrichment in neuropsychiatric disorders.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:Genetic influences on gene expression in the human fetal brain plausibly impact upon a variety of postnatal brain-related traits, including susceptibility to neuropsychiatric disorders. However, to date, there have been no studies that have mapped genome-wide expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) specifically in the human prenatal brain. RESULTS:We performed deep RNA sequencing and genome-wide genotyping on a unique collection of 120 human brains from the second trimester of gestation to provide the first eQTL dataset derived exclusively from the human fetal brain. We identify high confidence cis-acting eQTL at the individual transcript as well as whole gene level, including many mapping to a common inversion polymorphism on chromosome 17q21. Fetal brain eQTL are enriched among risk variants for postnatal conditions including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. We further identify changes in gene expression within the prenatal brain that potentially mediate risk for neuropsychiatric traits, including increased expression of C4A in association with genetic risk for schizophrenia, increased expression of LRRC57 in association with genetic risk for bipolar disorder, and altered expression of multiple genes within the chromosome 17q21 inversion in association with variants influencing the personality trait of neuroticism. CONCLUSIONS:We have mapped eQTL operating in the human fetal brain, providing evidence that these confer risk to certain neuropsychiatric disorders, and identifying gene expression changes that potentially mediate susceptibility to these conditions.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Bipolar disorder is a highly heritable polygenic disorder. Recent enrichment analyses suggest that there may be true risk variants for bipolar disorder in the expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) in the brain. AIMS:We sought to assess the impact of eQTL variants on bipolar disorder risk by combining data from both bipolar disorder genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and brain eQTL. METHOD:To detect single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that influence expression levels of genes associated with bipolar disorder, we jointly analysed data from a bipolar disorder GWAS (7481 cases and 9250 controls) and a genome-wide brain (cortical) eQTL (193 healthy controls) using a Bayesian statistical method, with independent follow-up replications. The identified risk SNP was then further tested for association with hippocampal volume (n = 5775) and cognitive performance (n = 342) among healthy individuals. RESULTS:Integrative analysis revealed a significant association between a brain eQTL rs6088662 on chromosome 20q11.22 and bipolar disorder (log Bayes factor = 5.48; bipolar disorder P = 5.85 × 10(-5)). Follow-up studies across multiple independent samples confirmed the association of the risk SNP (rs6088662) with gene expression and bipolar disorder susceptibility (P = 3.54 × 10(-8)). Further exploratory analysis revealed that rs6088662 is also associated with hippocampal volume and cognitive performance in healthy individuals. CONCLUSIONS:Our findings suggest that 20q11.22 is likely a risk region for bipolar disorder; they also highlight the informative value of integrating functional annotation of genetic variants for gene expression in advancing our understanding of the biological basis underlying complex disorders, such as bipolar disorder.
Project description:In recent years, large scale meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have reliably identified genetic polymorphisms associated with neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia (SCZ), bipolar disorder (BPD) and major depressive disorder (MDD). However, the majority of disease-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) appear within functionally ambiguous non-coding genomic regions. Recently, increased emphasis has been placed on identifying the functional relevance of disease-associated variants via correlating risk polymorphisms with gene expression levels in etiologically relevant tissues. For neuropsychiatric disorders, the etiologically relevant tissue is brain, which requires robust postmortem sample sizes from varying genetic backgrounds. While small sample sizes are of decreasing concern, postmortem brain databases are composed almost exclusively of Caucasian samples, which significantly limits study design and result interpretation. In this review, we highlight the importance of gene expression and expression quantitative loci (eQTL) studies in clinically relevant postmortem tissue while addressing the current limitations of existing postmortem brain databases. Finally, we introduce future collaborations to develop postmortem brain databases for neuropsychiatric disorders from Chinese and Asian subpopulations.
Project description:Genome wide association studies of schizophrenia encompassing the major histocompatibility locus (MHC) were highly significant following genome wide correction. This broad region implicates many genes including the MHC complex class II. Within this interval we examined the expression of two MHC II genes (HLA-DPA1 and HLA-DRB1) in brain from individual subjects with schizophrenia (SZ), bipolar disorder (BD), major depressive disorder (MDD), and controls by differential gene expression methods. A third MHC II mRNA, CD74, was studied outside of the MHC II locus, as it interacts within the same immune complex. HLA-DPA1 and CD74 were both reduced in hippocampus, amygdala, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex regions in SZ and BD compared to controls by specific qPCR assay. We found several novel HLA-DPA1 mRNA variants spanning HLA-DPA1 exons 2-3-4 as suggested by an exon microarray study. The intronic rs9277341 SNP was a significant cis expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) that was associated with the total expression of HLA-DPA1 in five brain regions. A biomarker study of MHC II mRNAs was conducted in SZ, BD, MDD, and control lymphoblastic cell lines (LCL) by qPCR assay of 87 subjects. There was significantly decreased expression of HLA-DPA1 and CD74 in BD, and trends for reductions in SZ in LCLs. The discovery of multiple splicing variants in brain for HLA-DPA1 is important as the HLA-DPA1 gene is highly conserved, there are no reported splicing variants, and the functions in brain are unknown. Future work on the function and localization of MHC Class II proteins in brain will help to understand the role of alterations in neuropsychiatric disorders. The HLA-DPA1 eQTL is located within a large linkage disequilibrium block that has an irrefutable association with schizophrenia. Future tests in a larger cohort are needed to determine the significance of this eQTL association with schizophrenia. Our findings support the long held hypothesis that alterations in immune function are associated with the pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders. There were 20 anterior cingulate postmortem brain samples that were extracted for total RNA, and analyzed using Affymetrix Exon Array (bipolar disorder subjects n = 9, controls n = 11).
Project description:A multitude of genes have been associated with bipolar disorder via SNP genotyping studies. However, many of these associated SNPs are found within intronic or intergenic regions of the human genome. We were interested in studying transcriptional profiles/splice variation of genes associated with bipolar disorder within the human striatum. Understanding how these associated genes are transcribed in the human brain may help to guide the development of therapeutic agents for the treatment of bipolar disorder and other neuropsychiatric illnesses. Overall design: NEBNext Ultra Directional RNAseq libraries were generated from putamen and caudate nucleus tissues from 4 healthy control individuals and 4 individuals with bipolar disorder. These libraries were then multiplexed and run on an Illumina HiSeq platform using single read 100bp chemistries.
Project description:Genetic variants of ESR1 have been implicated in multiple diseases, including behavioral disorders, but causative variants remain uncertain. We have searched for regulatory variants affecting ESR1 expression in human brain, measuring allelic ESR1 mRNA expression in human brain tissues with marker SNPs in exon4 representing ESR1-008 (or ESR?-36), and in the 3'UTR of ESR1-203, two main ESR1 isoforms in brain. In prefrontal cortex from subjects with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and controls (n = 35 each; Stanley Foundation brain bank), allelic ESR1 mRNA ratios deviated from unity up to tenfold at the exon4 marker SNP, with large allelic ratios observed primarily in bipolar and schizophrenic subjects. SNP scanning and targeted sequencing identified rs2144025, associated with large allelic mRNA ratios (p = 1.6E10-6). Moreover, rs2144025 was significantly associated with ESR1 mRNA levels in the Brain eQTL Almanac and in brain regions in the Genotype-Tissue Expression project. In four GWAS cohorts, rs2104425 was significantly associated with behavioral traits, including: hypomanic episodes in female bipolar disorder subjects (GAIN bipolar disorder study; p = 0.0004), comorbid psychological symptoms in both males and females with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (GAIN ADHD, p = 0.00002), psychological diagnoses in female children (eMERGE study of childhood health, subject age ?9, p = 0.0009), and traits in schizophrenia (e.g., grandiose delusions, GAIN schizophrenia, p = 0.0004). The first common ESR1 variant (MAF 12-33% across races) linked to regulatory functions, rs2144025 appears conditionally to affect ESR1 mRNA expression in the brain and modulate traits in behavioral disorders.
Project description:The single-nucleotide polymorphism rs1344706 in the zinc finger protein 804A gene (ZNF804A) shows genome-wide association with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Little is known regarding the expression of ZNF804A and the functionality of rs1344706.To characterize ZNF804A expression in human brain and to investigate how it changes across the life span and how it is affected by rs1344706, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder.Molecular and immunochemical methods were used to study ZNF804A messenger RNA (mRNA) and ZNF804A protein, respectively. ZNF804A transcripts were investigated using next-generation sequencing and polymerase chain reaction-based methods, and ZNF804A protein was investigated using Western blots and immunohistochemistry. Samples of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and inferior parietal lobe tissue were interrogated from 697 participants between 14 weeks' gestational age and age 85 years, including patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depressive disorder.Quantitative measurements of ZNF804A mRNA and immunoreactivity, and the effect of diagnosis and rs1344706 genotype.ZNF804A was expressed across the life span, with highest expression prenatally. An abundant and developmentally regulated truncated ZNF804A transcript was identified, missing exons 1 and 2 (ZNF804AE3E4) and predicted to encode a protein lacking the zinc finger domain. rs1344706 influenced expression of ZNF804AE3E4 mRNA in fetal brain (P?=?.02). In contrast, full-length ZNF804A showed no association with genotype (P?>?.05). ZNF804AE3E4 mRNA expression was decreased in patients with schizophrenia (P?=?.006) and increased in those with major depressive disorder (P?<?.001), and there was a genotype-by-diagnosis interaction in bipolar disorder (P?=?.002). ZNF804A immunoreactivity was detected in fetal and adult human cerebral cortex. It was localized primarily to pyramidal neurons, with cytoplasmic as well as dendritic and nuclear staining. No differences in ZNF804A-immunoreactive neurons were seen in schizophrenia or related to rs1344706 (P?>?.05).rs1344706 influences the expression of ZNF804AE3E4, a novel splice variant. The effect is limited to fetal brain and to this isoform. It may be part of the mechanism by which allelic variation in ZNF804A affects risk of psychosis. ZNF804A is translated in human brain, where its functions may extend beyond its predicted role as a transcription factor.
Project description:Neurexin 1 (NRXN1), a presynaptic cell adhesion molecule, is implicated in several neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by synaptic dysfunction including autism, intellectual disability and schizophrenia. To gain insight into NRXN1's involvement in human cortical development we used quantitative real-time PCR to examine the expression trajectories of NRXN1, and its predominant isoforms, NRXN1-? and NRXN1-?, in prefrontal cortex from fetal stages to aging. In addition, we investigated whether prefrontal cortical expression levels of NRXN1 transcripts are altered in schizophrenia or bipolar disorder in comparison with non-psychiatric control subjects. We observed that all three NRXN1 transcripts were highly expressed during human fetal cortical development, markedly increasing with gestational age. In the postnatal dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, expression levels were negatively correlated with age, peaking at birth until ~3 years of age, after which levels declined markedly to be stable across the lifespan. NRXN1-? expression was modestly but significantly elevated in the brains of patients with schizophrenia compared with non-psychiatric controls, whereas NRXN1-? expression was increased in bipolar disorder. These data provide novel evidence that NRXN1 expression is highest in human dorsolateral prefrontal cortex during critical developmental windows relevant to the onset and diagnosis of a range of neurodevelopmental disorders, and that NRXN1 expression may be differentially altered in neuropsychiatric disorders.
Project description:Schizophrenia and the affective disorders, here comprising bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder, are psychiatric illnesses that lead to significant morbidity and mortality worldwide. Whilst understanding of their pathobiology remains limited, large case-control studies have recently identified single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with these disorders. However, discerning the functional effects of these SNPs has been difficult as the associated causal genes are unknown. Here we evaluated whether schizophrenia and affective disorder associated-SNPs are correlated with gene expression within human brain tissue. Specifically, to identify expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs), we leveraged disorder-associated SNPs identified from 11 genome-wide association studies with gene expression levels in post-mortem, neurologically-normal tissue from two independent human brain tissue expression datasets (UK Brain Expression Consortium (UKBEC) and Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx)). Utilizing stringent multi-region meta-analyses, we identified 2,224 cis-eQTLs associated with expression of 40 genes, including 11 non-coding RNAs. One cis-eQTL, rs16969968, results in a functionally disruptive missense mutation in CHRNA5, a schizophrenia-implicated gene. Importantly, comparing across tissues, we find that blood eQTLs capture < 10% of brain cis-eQTLs. Contrastingly, > 30% of brain-associated eQTLs are significant in tibial nerve. This study identifies putatively causal genes whose expression in region-specific tissue may contribute to the risk of schizophrenia and affective disorders.
Project description:Fetal exposure to environmental insults increases the susceptibility to late-onset neuropsychiatric disorders. Alcohol is listed as one of such prenatal environmental risk factors and known to exert devastating teratogenetic effects on the developing brain, leading to complex neurological and psychiatric symptoms observed in fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). Here, we performed a coordinated transcriptome analysis of human and mouse fetal cerebral cortices exposed to ethanol in vitro and in vivo, respectively. Up- and down-regulated genes conserved in the human and mouse models and the biological annotation of their expression profiles included many genes/terms related to neural development, such as cell proliferation, neuronal migration and differentiation, providing a reliable connection between the two species. Our data indicate that use of the combined rodent and human model systems provides an effective strategy to reveal and analyze gene expression changes inflicted by various physical and chemical environmental exposures during prenatal development. It also can potentially provide insight into the pathogenesis of environmentally caused brain disorders in humans.
Project description:Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, is fundamental to brain function and implicated in the pathophysiology of several neuropsychiatric disorders. GABA activates G-protein-coupled GABAB receptors comprising principal GABAB1 and GABAB2 subunits as well as auxiliary KCTD8, 12, 12b and 16 subunits. The KCTD12 gene has been associated with bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder and schizophrenia. Here we compare Kctd12 null mutant (Kctd12(-/-)) and heterozygous (Kctd12(+/-)) with wild-type (WT) littermate mice to determine whether lack of or reduced KCTD12 expression leads to phenotypes that, extrapolating to human, could constitute endophenotypes for neuropsychiatric disorders with which KCTD12 is associated. Kctd12(-/-) mice exhibited increased fear learning but not increased memory of a discrete auditory-conditioned stimulus. Kctd12(+/-) mice showed increased activity during the inactive (light) phase of the circadian cycle relative to WT and Kctd12(-/-) mice. Electrophysiological recordings from hippocampal slices, a region of high Kctd12 expression, revealed an increased intrinsic excitability of pyramidal neurons in Kctd12(-/-) and Kctd12(+/-) mice. This is the first direct evidence for involvement of KCTD12 in determining phenotypes of emotionality, behavioral activity and neuronal excitability. This study provides empirical support for the polymorphism and expression evidence that KCTD12 confers risk for and is associated with neuropsychiatric disorders.