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Logo of jmedgeneJournal of Medical GeneticsVisit this articleSubmit a manuscriptReceive email alertsContact usBMJ
J Med Genet. 2003 May; 40(5): 325–332.
PMCID: PMC1735455

Disruption of the neuronal PAS3 gene in a family affected with schizophrenia


Schizophrenia and its subtypes are part of a complex brain disorder with multiple postulated aetiologies. There is evidence that this common disease is genetically heterogeneous, with many loci involved. In this report, we describe a mother and daughter affected with schizophrenia, who are carriers of a t(9;14)(q34;q13) chromosome. By mapping on flow sorted aberrant chromosomes isolated from lymphoblast cell lines, both subjects were found to have a translocation breakpoint junction between the markers D14S730 and D14S70, a 683 kb interval on chromosome 14q13. This interval was found to contain the neuronal PAS3 gene (NPAS3), by annotating the genomic sequence for ESTs and performing RACE and cDNA library screenings. The NPAS3 gene was characterised with respect to the genomic structure, human expression profile, and protein cellular localisation to gain insight into gene function. The translocation breakpoint junction lies within the third intron of NPAS3, resulting in the disruption of the coding potential. The fact that the bHLH and PAS domains are disrupted from the remaining parts of the encoded protein suggests that the DNA binding and dimerisation functions of this protein are destroyed. The daughter (proband), who is more severely affected, has an additional microdeletion in the second intron of NPAS3. On chromosome 9q34, the translocation breakpoint junction was defined between D9S752 and D9S972 and no genes were found to be disrupted. We propose that haploinsufficiency of NPAS3 contributes to the cause of mental illness in this family.

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