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1.  Intronic Polymorphisms Affecting Alternative Splicing of Human Dopamine D2 Receptor Are Associated with Cocaine Abuse 
Neuropsychopharmacology  2010;36(4):753-762.
The dopamine receptor D2 (encoded by DRD2) is implicated in susceptibility to mental disorders and cocaine abuse, but mechanisms responsible for this relationship remain uncertain. DRD2 mRNA exists in two main splice isoforms with distinct functions: D2 long (D2L) and D2 short (D2S, lacking exon 6), expressed mainly postsynaptically and presynaptically, respectively. Two intronic single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs rs2283265 (intron 5) and rs1076560 (intron 6)) in high linkage disequilibrium (LD) with each other have been reported to alter D2S/D2L splicing and several behavioral traits in human subjects, such as memory processing. To assess the role of DRD2 variants in cocaine abuse, we measured levels of D2S and D2L mRNA in human brain autopsy tissues (prefrontal cortex and putamen) obtained from cocaine abusers and controls, and genotyped a panel of DRD2 SNPs (119 abusers and 95 controls). Robust effects of rs2283265 and rs1076560 on reducing formation of D2S relative to D2L were confirmed. The minor alleles of rs2283265/rs1076560 were considerably more frequent in Caucasians (18%) compared with African Americans (7%). Also, in Caucasians, rs2283265/rs1076560 minor alleles were significantly overrepresented in cocaine abusers compared with controls (rs2283265: 25 to 9%, respectively; p=0.001; OR=3.4 (1.7–7.1)). Several SNPs previously implicated in diverse clinical association studies are in high LD with rs2283265/rs1076560 and could have served as surrogate markers. Our results confirm the role of rs2283265/rs1076560 in D2 alternative splicing and support a strong role in susceptibility to cocaine abuse.
PMCID: PMC3055737  PMID: 21150907
alternative splicing; cocaine; dopamine; DRD2; D2S; human; addiction and substance abuse; dopamine; neurogenetics; psychostimulants; drd2; d2s; human; alternative splicing; cocaine
2.  Genetically Determined Measures of Striatal D2 Signaling Predict Prefrontal Activity during Working Memory Performance 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(2):e9348.
Variation of the gene coding for D2 receptors (DRD2) has been associated with risk for schizophrenia and with working memory deficits. A functional intronic SNP (rs1076560) predicts relative expression of the two D2 receptors isoforms, D2S (mainly pre-synaptic) and D2L (mainly post-synaptic). However, the effect of functional genetic variation of DRD2 on striatal dopamine D2 signaling and on its correlation with prefrontal activity during working memory in humans is not known.
Thirty-seven healthy subjects were genotyped for rs1076560 (G>T) and underwent SPECT with [123I]IBZM (which binds primarily to post-synaptic D2 receptors) and with [123I]FP-CIT (which binds to pre-synaptic dopamine transporters, whose activity and density is also regulated by pre-synaptic D2 receptors), as well as BOLD fMRI during N-Back working memory.
Subjects carrying the T allele (previously associated with reduced D2S expression) had striatal reductions of [123I]IBZM and of [123I]FP-CIT binding. DRD2 genotype also differentially predicted the correlation between striatal dopamine D2 signaling (as identified with factor analysis of the two radiotracers) and activity of the prefrontal cortex during working memory as measured with BOLD fMRI, which was positive in GG subjects and negative in GT.
Our results demonstrate that this functional SNP within DRD2 predicts striatal binding of the two radiotracers to dopamine transporters and D2 receptors as well as the correlation between striatal D2 signaling with prefrontal cortex activity during performance of a working memory task. These data are consistent with the possibility that the balance of excitatory/inhibitory modulation of striatal neurons may also affect striatal outputs in relationship with prefrontal activity during working memory performance within the cortico-striatal-thalamic-cortical pathway.
PMCID: PMC2825256  PMID: 20179754
3.  Prefronto-striatal physiology is associated with schizotypy and is modulated by a functional variant of DRD2 
“Schizotypy” is a latent organization of personality related to the genetic risk for schizophrenia. Some evidence suggests that schizophrenia and schizotypy share some biological features, including a link to dopaminergic D2 receptor signaling. A polymorphism in the D2 gene (DRD2 rs1076560, guanine > thymine (G > T)) has been associated with the D2 short/long isoform expression ratio, as well as striatal dopamine signaling and prefrontal cortical activity during different cognitive operations, which are measures that are altered in patients with schizophrenia. Our aim is to determine the association of schizotypy scores with the DRD2 rs1076560 genotype in healthy individuals and their interaction with prefrontal activity during attention and D2 striatal signaling. A total of 83 healthy subjects were genotyped for DRD2 rs1076560 and completed the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire (SPQ). Twenty-six participants underwent SPECT with [123I]IBZM D2 receptor radiotracer, while 68 performed an attentional control task during fMRI. We found that rs1076560 GT subjects had greater SPQ scores than GG individuals. Moreover, the interaction between schizotypy and the GT genotype predicted prefrontal activity and related attentional behavior, as well as striatal binding of IBZM. No interaction was found in GG individuals. These results suggest that rs1076560 GT healthy individuals are prone to higher levels of schizotypy, and that the interaction between rs1076560 and schizotypy scores modulates phenotypes related to the pathophysiology of schizophrenia, such as prefrontal activity and striatal dopamine signaling. These results provide systems-level qualitative evidence for mapping the construct of schizotypy in healthy individuals onto the schizophrenia continuum.
PMCID: PMC4089730  PMID: 25071490
schizotypy; dopamine; DRD2; fMRI; SPECT
4.  Genetically determined interaction between the dopamine transporter and the D2 receptor on prefronto-striatal activity and volume in humans 
Dopamine modulation of neuronal activity during memory tasks identifies a non-linear inverted-U shaped function. Both the dopamine transporter (DAT) and dopamine D2 receptors (encoded by DRD2) critically regulate dopamine signaling in the striatum and in prefrontal cortex during memory. Moreover, in vitro studies have demonstrated that DAT and D2 proteins reciprocally regulate each other presynaptically. Therefore, we have evaluated the genetic interaction between a DRD2 polymorphism (rs1076560) causing reduced presynaptic D2 receptor expression and the DAT 3’-VNTR variant (affecting DAT expression) in a large sample of healthy subjects undergoing BOLD - fMRI during memory tasks and structural MRI. Results indicated a significant DRD2/DAT interaction in prefrontal cortex and striatum BOLD activity during both working memory and encoding of recognition memory. The differential effect on BOLD activity of the DAT variant was mostly manifest in the context of the DRD2 allele associated with lower presynaptic expression. Similar results were also evident for gray matter volume in caudate. These interactions describe a non-linear relationship between compound genotypes and brain activity or gray matter volume. Complementary data from striatal protein extracts from wild-type and D2 knock-out animals (D2R−/−) indicate that DAT and D2 proteins interact in vivo. Taken together, our results demonstrate that the interaction between genetic variants in DRD2 and DAT critically modulates the non-linear relationship between dopamine and neuronal activity during memory processing.
PMCID: PMC2686116  PMID: 19176830
working memory; Recognition Memory; FMRI; Dopamine; Transport; D2; Receptor
5.  DRD2/CHRNA5 Interaction on Prefrontal Biology and Physiology during Working Memory 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e95997.
Prefrontal behavior and activity in humans are heritable. Studies in animals demonstrate an interaction between dopamine D2 receptors and nicotinic acetylcholine receptors on prefrontal behavior but evidence in humans is weak. Therefore, we hypothesize that genetic variation regulating dopamine D2 and nicotinic acetylcholine receptor signaling impact prefrontal cortex activity and related cognition. To test this hypothesis in humans, we explored the interaction between functional genetic variants in the D2 receptor gene (DRD2, rs1076560) and in the nicotinic receptor α5 gene (CHRNA5, rs16969968) on both dorsolateral prefrontal cortex mediated behavior and physiology during working memory and on prefrontal gray matter volume.
A large sample of healthy subjects was compared for genotypic differences for DRD2 rs1076560 (G>T) and CHNRA5 rs16969968 (G>A) on prefrontal phenotypes, including cognitive performance at the N-Back task, prefrontal physiology with BOLD fMRI during performance of the 2-Back working memory task, and prefrontal morphometry with structural MRI.
We found that DRD2 rs1076560 and CHNRA5 rs16969968 interact to modulate cognitive function, prefrontal physiology during working memory, and prefrontal gray matter volume. More specifically, CHRNA5-AA/DRD2-GT subjects had greater behavioral performance, more efficient prefrontal cortex activity at 2Back working memory task, and greater prefrontal gray matter volume than the other genotype groups.
The present data extend previous studies in animals and enhance our understanding of dopamine and acetylcholine signaling in the human prefrontal cortex, demonstrating interactions elicited by working memory that are modulated by genetic variants in DRD2 and CHRNA5.
PMCID: PMC4018353  PMID: 24819610
6.  DRD2 Genotype-Based Variation of Default Mode Network Activity and of Its Relationship With Striatal DAT Binding 
Schizophrenia Bulletin  2011;39(1):206-216.
The default mode network (DMN) comprises a set of brain regions with “increased” activity during rest relative to cognitive processing. Activity in the DMN is associated with functional connections with the striatum and dopamine (DA) levels in this brain region. A functional single-nucleotide polymorphism within the dopamine D2 receptor gene (DRD2, rs1076560 G > T) shifts splicing of the 2 D2 isoforms, D2 short and D2 long, and has been associated with striatal DA signaling as well as with cognitive processing. However, the effects of this polymorphism on DMN have not been explored. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of rs1076560 on DMN and striatal connectivity and on their relationship with striatal DA signaling. Twenty-eight subjects genotyped for rs1076560 underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging during a working memory task and 123 55 I-Fluoropropyl-2-beta-carbomethoxy-3-beta(4-iodophenyl) nortropan Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography ([123I]-FP-CIT SPECT) imaging (a measure of dopamine transporter [DAT] binding). Spatial group-independent component (IC) analysis was used to identify DMN and striatal ICs. Within the anterior DMN IC, GG subjects had relatively greater connectivity in medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC), which was directly correlated with striatal DAT binding. Within the posterior DMN IC, GG subjects had reduced connectivity in posterior cingulate relative to T carriers. Additionally, rs1076560 genotype predicted connectivity differences within a striatal network, and these changes were correlated with connectivity in MPFC and posterior cingulate within the DMN. These results suggest that genetically determined D2 receptor signaling is associated with DMN connectivity and that these changes are correlated with striatal function and presynaptic DA signaling.
PMCID: PMC3523900  PMID: 21976709
DRD2; dopamine; default mode network; functional magnetic resonance imaging; single-photon emission computerized tomography
7.  Functional variation of the dopamine D2 receptor gene is associated with emotional control as well as brain activity and connectivity during emotion processing in humans 
Personality traits related to emotion processing are, at least in part, heritable and genetically determined. Dopamine D2 receptor signaling is involved in modulation of emotional behavior and activity of associated brain regions such as the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. An intronic single nucleotide polymorphism within the D2 receptor gene (DRD2, rs1076560, guanine>thymine - G>T) shifts splicing of the two protein isoforms (D2 short, D2S, mainly presynaptic, and D2 long, D2L) and has been associated with modulation of memory performance and brain activity. Here, our aim was to investigate the association of DRD2 rs1076560 genotype with personality traits of emotional stability and with brain physiology during processing of emotionally relevant stimuli. DRD2 genotype and Big Five Questionnaire scores were evaluated in 134 healthy subjects demonstrating that GG subjects have reduced ‘emotion control’ compared with GT subjects. fMRI in a sample of 24 individuals indicated greater amygdala activity during implicit processing and greater dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) response during explicit processing of facial emotional stimuli in GG subjects compared with GT. Other results also demonstrate an interaction between DRD2 genotype and facial emotional expression on functional connectivity of both amygdala and dorsolateral prefrontal regions with overlapping medial prefrontal areas. Moreover, rs1076560 genotype is associated with differential relationships between amygdala/DLPFC functional connectivity and emotion control scores. These results suggest that genetically determined D2 signaling may explain part of personality traits related to emotion processing and individual variability in specific brain responses to emotionally relevant inputs.
PMCID: PMC2834475  PMID: 19940176
amygdala; DRD2; dopamine; emotion; fMRI; prefrontal cortex
8.  Family-based association testing strongly implicates DRD2 as a risk gene for schizophrenia in Han Chinese from Taiwan 
Molecular psychiatry  2008;14(9):885-893.
The gene that codes for dopamine receptor D2 (DRD2 on chromosome 11q23) has long been a prime functional and positional candidate risk gene for schizophrenia. Collectively, prior case–control studies found a reliable effect of the Ser311Cys DRD2 polymorphism (rs1801028) on risk for schizophrenia, but few other polymorphisms in the gene had ever been evaluated and no adequately powered family-based association study has been performed to date. Our objective was to test 21 haplotype-tagging and all three known nonsynonymous single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in DRD2 for association with schizophrenia in a family-based study of 2408 Han Chinese, including 1214 affected individuals from 616 families. We did not find a significant effect of rs1801028, but we did find significant evidence for association of schizophrenia with two multi-marker haplotypes spanning blocks of strong linkage disequilibrium (LD) and nine individual SNPs (Ps < 0.05). Importantly, two SNPs (rs1079727 and rs2283265) and both multi-marker haplotypes spanning entire LD blocks (including one that contained rs1801028) remained significant after correcting for multiple testing. These results further add to the body of data implicating DRD2 as a schizophrenia risk gene; however, a causal variant(s) in DRD2 remains to be elucidated by further fine mapping of the gene, with particular attention given to the area surrounding the third through fifth exons.
PMCID: PMC2755547  PMID: 18332877
allele; dopamine; haplotype; linkage disequilibrium; PBAT
9.  Effective connectivity of AKT1-mediated dopaminergic working memory networks and pharmacogenetics of anti-dopaminergic treatment 
Brain  2012;135(5):1436-1445.
Working memory is a limited capacity system that integrates and manipulates information across brief periods of time, engaging a network of prefrontal, parietal and subcortical brain regions. Genetic control of these heritable brain processes have been suggested by functional genetic variations influencing dopamine signalling, which affect prefrontal activity during complex working memory tasks. However, less is known about genetic control over component working memory cortical–subcortical networks in humans, and the pharmacogenetic implications of dopamine-related genes on cognition in patients receiving anti-dopaminergic drugs. Here, we examined predictions from basic models of dopaminergic signalling in cortical and cortical–subcortical circuitries implicated in dissociable working memory maintenance and manipulation processes. We also examined pharmacogenetic effects on cognition in the context of anti-dopaminergic drug therapy. Using dynamic causal models of functional magnetic resonance imaging in normal subjects (n = 46), we identified differentiated effects of functional polymorphisms in COMT, DRD2 and AKT1 genes on prefrontal–parietal and prefrontal–striatal circuits engaged during maintenance and manipulation, respectively. Cortical synaptic dopamine monitored by the COMT Val158Met polymorphism influenced prefrontal control of both parietal processing in working memory maintenance and striatal processing in working memory manipulation. DRD2 and AKT1 polymorphisms implicated in DRD2 signalling influenced only the prefrontal–striatal network associated with manipulation. In the context of anti-psychotic drugs, the DRD2 and AKT1 polymorphisms altered dose-response effects of anti-psychotic drugs on cognition in schizophrenia (n = 111). Thus, we suggest that genetic modulation of DRD2–AKT1-related prefrontal–subcortical circuits could at least in part influence cognitive dysfunction in psychosis and its treatment.
PMCID: PMC3338927  PMID: 22525159
antipsychotics; functional MRI; prefrontal cortex; schizophrenia; striatum
10.  Schizophrenia-associated HapICE haplotype is associated with increased NRG1 type III expression and high nucleotide diversity 
Translational Psychiatry  2012;2(4):e104-.
Excitement and controversy have followed neuregulin (NRG1) since its discovery as a putative schizophrenia susceptibility gene; however, the mechanism of action of the associated risk haplotype (HapICE) has not been identified, and specific genetic variations, which may increase risk to schizophrenia have remained elusive. Using a postmortem brain cohort from 37 schizophrenia cases and 37 controls, we resequenced upstream of the type I–IV promoters, and the HapICE repeat regions in intron 1. Relative abundance of seven NRG1 mRNA transcripts in the prefrontal cortex were determined and compared across diagnostic and genotypic groups. We identified 26 novel DNA variants and showed an increased novel variant load in cases compared with controls (χ2=7.815; P=0.05). The average nucleotide diversity (θ=10.0 × 10−4) was approximately twofold higher than that previously reported for BDNF, indicating that NRG1 may be particularly prone to genetic change. A greater nucleotide diversity was observed in the HapICE linkage disequilibrium block in schizophrenia cases (θ(case)=13.2 × 10−4; θ(control)=10.0 × 10−4). The specific HapICE risk haplotype was associated with increased type III mRNA (F=3.76, P=0.028), which in turn, was correlated with an earlier age of onset (r=−0.343, P=0.038). We found a novel intronic five-SNP haplotype ∼730 kb upstream of the type I promoter and determined that this region functions as transcriptional enhancer that is suppressed by SRY. We propose that the HapICE risk haplotype increases expression of the most brain-abundant form of NRG1, which in turn, elicits an earlier clinical presentation, thus providing a novel mechanism through which this genetic association may increase risk of schizophrenia.
PMCID: PMC3337073  PMID: 22832904
dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; HapICE; NRG1 isoform expression; postmortem brain; schizophrenia
11.  The dopamine receptor D2 (DRD2) SNP rs1076560 is associated with opioid addiction 
Annals of human genetics  2013;78(1):33-39.
The risk for drug addiction is partially heritable. Genes of the dopamine system are likely candidates to harbor risk variants, as dopamine neurotransmission is involved in mediating the rewarding effects of drugs of abuse. One functional SNP in DRD2, rs1076560, is involved in regulating splicing of the gene and alters the ratio of DRD2 isoforms located pre and post-synaptically. rs1076560 has been previously associated with cocaine abuse and we set out to confirm this association in a sample of European American (n=336) and African American (n=1034) cocaine addicts and European American (n=656) and African American (n=668) controls. We also analysed the role of rs1076560 in opioid dependence by genotyping European American (n=1041) and African American (n=284) opioid addicts. rs1076560 was found to be nominally associated with opioid dependence in European Americans (p=0.02, OR=1.27) and African Americans (p=0.03, OR=1.43). When both opioid addicted ancestral samples were combined, rs1076560 was significantly associated with increased risk for drug dependence (p=0.0038, OR=1.29). This association remained significant after correction for multiple testing. No association was found with cocaine dependence. These data demonstrate the importance of dopamine gene variants in the risk for opioid dependence and highlight a functional polymorphism which warrants further study.
PMCID: PMC4013426  PMID: 24359476
dopamine; genetics; drug addiction; rs1076560; DRD2
12.  Genetic Contributions to Avoidance-Based Decisions: Striatal D2 receptor Polymorphisms 
Neuroscience  2009;164(1):131-140.
Individuals differ in their tendencies to seek positive decision outcomes or to avoid negative ones. At the neurobiological level, our model suggests that phasic changes in dopamine support learning to reinforce good decisions via striatal D1 receptors, and to avoid maladaptive choices via striatal D2 receptors. Accordingly, in a previous study individual differences in positive and negative learning were strongly modulated by two genetic polymorphisms factors related to striatal D1 and D2 function, respectively. Nevertheless, whereas the role for dopamine in positive learning is relatively well accepted, that in learning to avoid negative outcomes is more controversial. Here we further explore D2-receptor-related genetic contributions to probabilistic avoidance, in light of recent data showing that particular DRD2 polymorphisms are associated with functional modulation of receptor expression (Zhang et al 2007, PNAS). We find that a promoter polymorphism rs12364283 associated with transcription and D2 receptor density was strongly and selectively predictive of avoidance-based decisions. Two further polymorphisms (rs2283265 and rs1076560) associated with relatively reduced presynaptic relative to postsynaptic D2 receptor expression were predictive of relative impairments in negative compared to positive decisions. These previously undocumented effects of DRD2 polymorphisms were largely independent of those we reported previously for the C957T polymorphism (rs6277) associated with striatal D2 density. In contrast, effects of the commonly studied Taq1A polymorphism on reinforcement-based decisions were due to indirect association with C957T. Taken together these findings suggest multiple D2-dependent genetic mechanisms contributing to avoidance. We discuss these effects in the context of neurocomputational models of reinforcement leaning in the basal ganglia.
PMCID: PMC2760598  PMID: 19393722
genetics; basal ganglia; dopamine; reinforcement learning; computational model
13.  COMT and ANKK1-Taq-Ia Genetic Polymorphisms Influence Visual Working Memory 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e55862.
Complex cognitive tasks such as visual working memory (WM) involve networks of interacting brain regions. Several neurotransmitters, including an appropriate dopamine concentration, are important for WM performance. A number of gene polymorphisms are associated with individual differences in cognitive task performance. COMT, for example, encodes catechol-o-methyl transferase the enzyme primarily responsible for catabolizing dopamine in the prefrontal cortex. Striatal dopamine function, linked with cognitive tasks as well as habit learning, is influenced by the Taq-Ia polymorphism of the DRD2/ANKK1 gene complex; this gene influences the density of dopamine receptors in the striatum. Here, we investigated the effects of these polymorphisms on a WM task requiring the maintenance of 4 or 6 items over delay durations of 1 or 5 seconds. We explored main effects and interactions between the COMT and DRD2/ANKK1-Taq-Ia polymorphisms on WM performance. Participants were genotyped for COMT (Val158Met) and DRD2/ANKK1-Taq-Ia (A1+, A1−) polymorphisms. There was a significant main effect of both polymorphisms. Participants' WM reaction times slowed with increased Val loading such that the Val/Val homozygotes made the slowest responses and the Met/Met homozygotes were the fastest. Similarly, WM reaction times were slower and more variable for the DRD2/ANKK1-Taq-Ia A1+ group than the A1− group. The main effect of COMT was only apparent in the DRD2/ANKK1-Taq-Ia A1− group. These findings link WM performance with slower dopaminergic metabolism in the prefrontal cortex as well as a greater density of dopamine receptors in the striatum.
PMCID: PMC3561341  PMID: 23383291
14.  AKT1 is associated with schizophrenia across multiple symptom dimensions in the Irish Study of High Density Schizophrenia Families (ISHDSF) 
Biological psychiatry  2007;63(5):449-457.
The phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)-AKT signal transduction pathway is critical to cell growth and survival. In vitro functional studies indicate that the candidate schizophrenia susceptibility gene DTNBP1 influences AKT signaling to promote neuronal viability. The AKT1 gene has also been implicated in schizophrenia by association studies and decreased protein expression in the brains of schizophrenic patients.
The association of DTNBP1 in the Irish Study of High Density Schizophrenia Families (ISHDSF) prompted our investigation of AKT1 for association with disease in this sample. Eight SNPs spanning AKT1 were analyzed for association with schizophrenia across 4 definitions of affection, and according to Operational Criteria Checklist of Psychotic Illness (OPCRIT) symptom scales. We examined expression of AKT1 mRNA from post-mortem brain tissue of schizophrenic, bipolar and control individuals.
No single marker showed significant association, but the risk haplotype previously found over-transmitted to Caucasian schizophrenic patients was significantly under-transmitted in the ISHDSF (0.01
The replication of association of AKT1 gene variants in a further Caucasian family sample adds support for involvement of AKT signaling in schizophrenia, perhaps encompassing a broader clinical phenotype that includes mood dysregulation. We show that AKT1 signaling may be compromised in schizophrenic and bipolar patients via reduced RNA expression of specific AKT isoforms.
PMCID: PMC2441648  PMID: 17825267
AKT1; schizophrenia; association; gene expression; clinical features
BMC Neuroscience  2013;14:111.
Mice generated by a Cre/LoxP transgenic paradigm were used to model neurodegenerative basal ganglia disease of which Huntington disease (HD) is the prototypical example. In HD, death occurs in striatal projection neurons as well as cortical neurons. Cortical and striatal neurons that express the D1 dopamine receptor (Drd1a) degenerate in HD. The contribution that death of specific neuronal cell populations makes to the HD disease phenotype and the response of the brain to loss of defined cell subtypes is largely unknown.
Drd1a-expressing cells were targeted for cell death and three independent lines generated; a striatal-restricted line, a cortical-restricted line and a global line in which Drd1a cells were deleted from both the striatum and cortex. Two independent experimental approaches were used. In the first, the proliferative marker Ki-67 was used to identify proliferating cells in eighty-week-old mice belonging to a generic global line, a global in which Drd1a cells express green fluorescent protein (GFP-global) and in eighty-week-old mice of a cortical line. In the second experiment, the proliferative response of four-week-old mice belonging to GFP-global and striatal lines was assessed using the thymidine analogue BrdU. The phenotype of proliferating cells was ascertained by double staining for BrdU and Olig2 (an oligodendrocyte marker), Iba1 (a microglial cell marker), S100β (an astroglial cell marker), or NeuN (a neuronal cell marker).
In the first study, we found that Ki-67-expressing cells were restricted to the striatal side of the lateral ventricles. Control mice had a greater number of Ki-67+ cells than mutant mice. There was no overlap between Ki-67 and GFP staining in control or mutant mice, suggesting that cells did not undergo cell division once they acquired a Drd1a phenotype. In contrast, in the second study we found that BrdU+ cells were identified throughout the cortex, striatum and periventricular region of control and mutant mice. Mutant mice from the GFP-global line showed increased BrdU+ cells in the cortex, striatum and periventricular region relative to control. Striatal line mutant mice had an increased number of BrdU+ cells in the striatum and periventricular region, but not the cortex. The number of microglia, astrocytes, oligodendrocytes and neurons generated from dividing progenitors was increased relative to control mice in most brain regions in mutant mice from the GFP-global line. In contrast, striatal line mutant mice displayed an increase only in the number of dividing microglia in striatal and periventricular regions.
Genetically programmed post-natal ablation of Drd1a-expressing neurons is associated with an extensive proliferative response involving multiple cell lineages. The nature of the tissue response has the potential not only to remove cellular debris but also to forge physiologically meaningful brain repair. Age related deficits in proliferation are seen in mutant lines. A blunted endogenous reparative response may underlie the cumulative deficits characteristic of age related neurodegeneration.
PMCID: PMC3851877  PMID: 24090101
Striatum; D1-dopamine receptor; Huntington disease; Gene targeting; Neurodegeneration; Neurogenesis
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e63778.
Missense mutations in the leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 gene (LRRK2) are linked to autosomal dominant forms of Parkinson’s disease (PD). In order to get insights into the physiological role of Lrrk2, we examined the distribution of Lrrk2 mRNA and different splice variants in the developing murine embryo and the adult brain of Mus musculus. To analyse if the Lrrk2-paralog, Lrrk1, may have redundant functions in PD-development, we also compared Lrrk1 and Lrrk2 expression in the same tissues. Using radioactive in situ hybridization, we found ubiquitous expression of both genes at low level from embryonic stage E9.5 onward, which progressively increased up until birth. The developing central nervous system (CNS) displayed no prominent Lrrk2 mRNA signals at these time-points. However, in the entire postnatal brain Lrrk2 became detectable, showing strongest level in the striatum and the cortex of adult mice; Lrrk1 was only detectable in the mitral cell layer of the olfactory bulb. Thus, due to the non-overlapping expression patterns, a redundant function of Lrrk2 and Lrrk1 in the pathogenesis of PD seems to be unlikely. Quantification of Lrrk2 mRNA and protein level in several brain regions by real-time PCR and Western blot verified the striatum and cortex as hotspots of postnatal Lrrk2 expression. Strong expression of Lrrk2 is mainly found in neurons, specifically in the dopamine receptor 1 (DRD1a) and 2 (DRD2)-positive subpopulations of the striatal medium spiny neurons. Finally, we identified 2 new splice-variants of Lrrk2 in RNA-samples from various adult brain regions and organs: a variant with a skipped exon 5 and a truncated variant terminating in an alternative exon 42a. In order to identify the origin of these two splice variants, we also analysed primary neural cultures independently and found cell-specific expression patterns for these variants in microglia and astrocytes.
PMCID: PMC3651128  PMID: 23675505
Dysregulation of dopaminergic neurotransmission at the D1 receptor in the prefrontal cortex has been implicated in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia. Genetic polymorphisms of the dopamine D1-receptor gene have a plausible role in modulating the risk of schizophrenia. To determine the role of DRD1 genetic polymorphisms as a risk factor for schizophrenia, we undertook a case-control study to look for an association between the DRD1 gene and schizophrenia.
Materials and methods
We genotyped eleven single-nucleotide polymorphisms within the DRD1 gene by deoxyribonucleic acid sequencing involving 173 paranoid schizophrenia patients and 213 unrelated healthy individuals. Statistical analysis was performed to identify the difference of genotype, allele, or haplotype distribution between cases and controls.
A significantly lower risk of paranoid schizophrenia was associated with the AG + GG genotype of rs5326 and the AG + GG genotype of rs4532 compared to the AA genotype and the AA genotype, respectively. Distribution of haplotypes was no different between controls and paranoid schizophrenia patients. In the males, the genotype distribution of rs5326 was statistically different between cases and controls. In the females, the genotype distribution of rs4532 was statistically different between cases and controls. However, the aforementioned statistical significances were lost after Bonferroni correction.
It is unlikely that DRD1 accounts for a substantial proportion of the genetic risk for schizophrenia. As an important dopaminergic gene, DRD1 may contribute to schizophrenia by interacting with other genes, and further relevant studies are warranted.
PMCID: PMC4000248  PMID: 24790447
dopamine D1 receptor; paranoid schizophrenic; single-nucleotide study; association; genetic polymorphism
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:147.
The tumour supressor gene TP53 is thought to be involved in neural apoptosis. The polymorphism at codon 72 in TP53 and the long form variants of the upstream variable number of tandem repeats (uVNTR) polymorphism in the dopamine D4 receptor (DRD4) gene are reported to confer susceptibility to schizophrenia.
We recruited 934 patients with schizophrenia and 433 healthy individuals, and genotyped the locus of the TP53 codon 72 and DRD4 uVNTR polymorphisms by combining the polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism method (PCR-RFLP) with direct sequencing.
No significant differences were found in the frequency of the genotype of the TP53 codon72 polymorphism between patients with schizophrenia and their controls. However, the long form alleles (≥ 5 repeats) of the DRD4 uVNTR polymorphism were more frequent in patients with schizophrenia than in controls (p = 0.001). Hence, this class of alleles might be a risk factor for enhanced vulnerability to schizophrenia (odds ratio = 3.189, 95% confidence interval = 1.535-6.622). In the logistic regression analysis, the long form variants of the DRD4 polymorphism did predict schizophrenia after the contributions of the age and gender of the subjects were included (p = 0.036, OR = 2.319), but the CC and GG genotypes of the codon 72 polymorphism of TP53 did not.
The long form variants of the uVNTR polymorphism in DRD4 were associated with schizophrenia, in a manner that was independent of the TP53 codon 72 polymorphism. In addition, given that the genetic effect of the TP53 codon 72 polymorphism on the risk of developing schizophrenia was very small, this polymorphism is unlikely to be associated with schizophrenia. The roles that other single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the TP53 gene or in other apoptosis-related genes play in the synaptic dysfunction involved in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia should be investigated.
PMCID: PMC2808306  PMID: 20040103
Human Molecular Genetics  2008;17(15):2293-2309.
Estrogen modifies human emotion and cognition and impacts symptoms of schizophrenia. We hypothesized that the variation in the estrogen receptor alpha (ESR1) gene and cortical ESR1 mRNA is associated with schizophrenia. In a small case–control genetic association analysis of postmortem brain tissue, genotype CC (rs2234693) and haplotypes containing the C allele of a single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in intron1 (PvuII) were more frequent in African American schizophrenics (P = 0.01–0.001). In a follow-up family-based association analysis, we found overtransmission of PvuII allele C and a PvuII C-containing haplotype (P = 0.01–0.03) to African American and Caucasian patients with schizophrenia. Schizophrenics with the ‘at risk’ PvuII genotype had lower ESR1 mRNA levels in the frontal cortex. Eighteen ESR1 splice variants and decreased frequencies of the wild-type ESR1 mRNA were detected in schizophrenia. In one patient, a unique ESR1 transcript with a genomic insert encoding a premature stop codon and a truncated ESR1 protein lacking most of the estrogen binding domain was the only transcript detected. Using a luciferase assay, we found that mRNA encoding a truncated ESR1 significantly attenuates gene expression at estrogen-response elements demonstrating a dominant negative function. An intron 6 SNP [rs2273207(G)] was associated with an ESR1 splice variant missing exon seven. The T allele of another intron 6 SNP was part of a 3′ haplotype less common in schizophrenia [rs2273206(T), rs2273207(G), rs2228480(G)]. Thus, the variation in the ESR1 gene is associated with schizophrenia and the mechanism of this association may involve alternative gene regulation and transcript processing.
PMCID: PMC2465798  PMID: 18424448
The American journal of psychiatry  2010;168(4):418-426.
Schizotypal personality traits are associated with schizophrenia spectrum disorders. Individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorders demonstrate increased dopamine transmission in the striatum. We sought to determine if individual differences in normal variation in schizotypal traits correlate with dopamine transmission in the striatum and extra-striatal brain regions.
63 healthy individuals with no history of psychiatric illness completed the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire and underwent positron emission tomography (PET) imaging with [18F]fallypride at baseline and after administration of oral (0.43 mg/kg) d-amphetamine. Dopamine release, quantified by subtracting each subject’s d-amphetamine scan from their baseline scan, was correlated with Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire total and factor scores using region-of-interest and voxel-wise analyses.
Dopamine release in the striatum positively correlated with overall schizotypal traits. The association was especially robust in the associative sub-division of the striatum. Voxel-wise analyses identified additional correlations between dopamine release and schizotypal traits in the left middle frontal gyrus and left supramarginal gyrus. Exploratory analyses of Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire factor scores revealed correlations between dopamine release and disorganized schizotypal traits in the striatum, thalamus, medial prefrontal cortex, temporal lobe, insula, and inferior frontal cortex.
The association between dopamine signaling and psychosis phenotypes extends to individual differences in normal variation in schizotypal traits and involves dopamine transmission in both striatal and extra-striatal brain regions. D-amphetamine induced dopamine release may be a useful endophenotype for investigating the genetic basis of schizophrenia spectrum disorders.
PMCID: PMC3770457  PMID: 21159728
The executive function (EF) is a set of abilities, which allows us to invoke voluntary control of our behavioral responses. These functions enable human beings to develop and carry out plans, make up analogies, obey social rules, solve problems, adapt to unexpected circumstances, do many tasks simultaneously, and locate episodes in time and place. EF includes divided attention and sustained attention, working memory (WM), set-shifting, flexibility, planning, and the regulation of goal directed behavior and can be defined as a brain function underlying the human faculty to act or think not only in reaction to external events but also in relation with internal goals and states. EF is mostly associated with dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (PFC). Besides EF, PFC is involved in self-regulation of behavior, i.e., the ability to regulate behavior according to internal goals and constraints, particularly in less structured situations. Self-regulation of behavior is subtended by ventral medial/orbital PFC. Impairment of EF is one of the most commonly observed deficits in schizophrenia through the various disease stages. Impairment in tasks measuring conceptualization, planning, cognitive flexibility, verbal fluency, ability to solve complex problems, and WM occur in schizophrenia. Disorders detected by executive tests are consistent with evidence from functional neuroimaging, which have shown PFC dysfunction in patients while performing these kinds of tasks. Schizophrenics also exhibit deficit in odor identifying, decision-making, and self-regulation of behavior suggesting dysfunction of the orbital PFC. However, impairment in executive tests is explained by dysfunction of prefronto-striato-thalamic, prefronto-parietal, and prefronto-temporal neural networks mainly. Disorders in EFs may be considered central facts with respect to schizophrenia and it has been suggested that negative symptoms may be explained by that executive dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC3690455  PMID: 23805107
control; schizophrenia; executive function; prefrontal cortex
PLoS Genetics  2008;4(11):e1000252.
PRODH, encoding proline oxidase (POX), has been associated with schizophrenia through linkage, association, and the 22q11 deletion syndrome (Velo-Cardio-Facial syndrome). Here, we show in a family-based sample that functional polymorphisms in PRODH are associated with schizophrenia, with protective and risk alleles having opposite effects on POX activity. Using a multimodal imaging genetics approach, we demonstrate that haplotypes constructed from these risk and protective functional polymorphisms have dissociable correlations with structure, function, and connectivity of striatum and prefrontal cortex, impacting critical circuitry implicated in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. Specifically, the schizophrenia risk haplotype was associated with decreased striatal volume and increased striatal-frontal functional connectivity, while the protective haplotype was associated with decreased striatal-frontal functional connectivity. Our findings suggest a role for functional genetic variation in POX on neostriatal-frontal circuits mediating risk and protection for schizophrenia.
Author Summary
Schizophrenia is a major mental illness affecting 1% of the population. It is known that genetics plays a role in the disease susceptibility, and it is thought that the illness is a complex disorder involving multiple genes. We show that the schizophrenia susceptibility gene, PRODH, conveys its risk through a variation that increases its enzyme activity. We further show that protection is associated with variations that decrease enzyme activity and these protective variations are enriched in their unaffected siblings. We then used brain imaging of structure and memory function to dissect the risk and protective haplotypes differential effects, and found that the schizophrenia risk haplotype was associated with decreased striatal gray matter volume and increased subcortical to frontal lobe functional connectivity, while the schizophrenia protective haplotype was associated with trend-level increase of frontal lobe volume and decreased subcortical to frontal lobe connectivity. These findings indicate a new target for treating schizophrenia and characterize associated structural and functional deficits.
PMCID: PMC2573019  PMID: 18989458
Molecular psychiatry  2007;14(1):60-70.
Individual differences in traits such as impulsivity involve high reward sensitivity and are associated with risk for substance use disorders. The ventral striatum (VS) has been widely implicated in reward processing, and individual differences in its function are linked to these disorders. Dopamine (DA) plays a critical role in reward processing and is a potent neuromodulator of VS reactivity. Moreover, altered DA signaling has been associated with normal and pathological reward-related behaviors. Functional polymorphisms in DA-related genes represent an important source of variability in DA function that may subsequently impact VS reactivity and associated reward-related behaviors. Using an imaging genetics approach, we examined the modulatory effects of common, putatively functional DA-related polymorphisms on reward-related VS reactivity associated with self-reported impulsivity. Genetic variants associated with relatively increased striatal DA release (DRD2 – 141C deletion) and availability (DAT1 9-repeat), as well as diminished inhibitory postsynaptic DA effects (DRD2 – 141C deletion and DRD4 7-repeat), predicted 9–12% of the interindividual variability in reward-related VS reactivity. In contrast, genetic variation directly affecting DA signaling only in the prefrontal cortex (COMT Val158Met) was not associated with variability in VS reactivity. Our results highlight an important role for genetic polymorphisms affecting striatal DA neurotransmission in mediating interindividual differences in reward-related VS reactivity. They further suggest that altered VS reactivity may represent a key neurobiological pathway through which these polymorphisms contribute to variability in behavioral impulsivity and related risk for substance use disorders.
PMCID: PMC2668513  PMID: 17893706
dopamine; impulsivity; ventral striatum; fMRI; genetic polymorphisms; reward
Translational Psychiatry  2013;3(1):e222-.
Epistatic gene–gene interactions could contribute to the heritability of complex multigenic disorders, but few examples have been reported. Here, we focus on the role of aberrant dopaminergic signaling, involving the dopamine transporter DAT, a cocaine target, and the dopamine D2 receptor, which physically interacts with DAT. Splicing polymorphism rs2283265 of DRD2, encoding D2 receptors, were shown to confer risk of cocaine overdose/death (odds ratio ∼3) in subjects and controls from the Miami Dade County Brain Bank.1 Risk of cocaine-related death attributable to the minor allele of rs2283265 was significantly enhanced to OR=7.5 (P=0.0008) in homozygous carriers of the main 6-repeat allele of DAT rs3836790, a regulatory VNTR in intron8 lacking significant effect itself. In contrast, carriers of the minor 5-repeat DAT allele showed no significant risk (OR=1.1, P=0.84). DAT rs3836790 and DRD2 rs2283265 also interacted by modulating DAT protein activity in the ventral putamen of cocaine abusers. In high-linkage disequilibrium with the VNTR, DAT rs6347 in exon9 yielded similar results. Assessing the impact of DAT alone, a rare DAT haplotype formed by the minor alleles of rs3836790 and rs27072, a regulatory DAT variant in the 3′-UTR, occurred in nearly one-third of the cocaine abusers but was absent in African American controls, apparently conferring strong risk. These results demonstrate gene–gene–drug interaction affecting risk of fatal cocaine intoxication.
PMCID: PMC3566726  PMID: 23340505
cocaine-related death; DAT; DRD2; epistasis; gene–gene interaction; gene regulation; haplotype
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2007;117(3):672-682.
Dopamine- and cAMP-regulated phosphoprotein of molecular weight 32 kDa (DARPP-32), encoded by PPP1R1B, is a pivotal integrator of information in dopaminoceptive neurons, regulating the response to neuroleptics, psychotomimetics, and drugs of abuse, and affecting striatal function and plasticity. Despite extensive preclinical work, there are almost no data on DARPP-32 function in humans. Here, we identify, through resequencing in 298 chromosomes, a frequent PPP1R1B haplotype predicting mRNA expression of PPP1R1B isoforms in postmortem human brain. This haplotype was associated with enhanced performance on several cognitive tests that depend on frontostriatal function. Multimodal imaging of healthy subjects revealed an impact of the haplotype on neostriatal volume, activation, and the functional connectivity of the prefrontal cortex. The haplotype was associated with the risk for schizophrenia in 1 family-based association analysis. Our convergent results identify a prefrontal-neostriatal system affected by variation in PPP1R1B and suggest that DARPP-32 plays a pivotal role in cognitive function and possibly in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia.
PMCID: PMC1784004  PMID: 17290303

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