Identification of de Novo Mutations in Prenatal Neurodevelopment-Associated Genes in Schizophrenia in Two Han Chinese Patient-Sibling Family-Based Cohorts

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Translational Psychiatry



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Schizophrenia (SCZ) is a severe psychiatric disorder with a strong genetic component. High heritability of SCZ suggests a major role for transmitted genetic variants. Furthermore, SCZ is also associated with a marked reduction in fecundity, leading to the hypothesis that alleles with large effects on risk might often occur de novo. In this study, we conducted whole-genome sequencing for 23 families from two cohorts with unaffected siblings and parents. Two nonsense de novo mutations (DNMs) in GJC1 and HIST1H2AD were identified in SCZ patients. Ten genes (DPYSL2, NBPF1, SDK1, ZNF595, ZNF718, GCNT2, SNX9, AACS, KCNQ1, and MSI2) were found to carry more DNMs in SCZ patients than their unaffected siblings by burden test. Expression analyses indicated that these DNM implicated genes showed significantly higher expression in prefrontal cortex in prenatal stage. The DNM in the GJC1 gene is highly likely a loss function mutation (pLI = 0.94), leading to the dysregulation of ion channel in the glutamatergic excitatory neurons. Analysis of rare variants in independent exome sequencing dataset indicates that GJC1 has significantly more rare variants in SCZ patients than in unaffected controls. Data from genome-wide association studies suggested that common variants in the GJC1 gene may be associated with SCZ and SCZ-related traits. Genes co-expressed with GJC1 are involved in SCZ, SCZ-associated pathways, and drug targets. These evidences suggest that GJC1 may be a risk gene for SCZ and its function may be involved in prenatal and early neurodevelopment, a vulnerable period for developmental disorders such as SCZ.


Developmental Neuroscience | Genetics



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