Finding Genes for Schizophrenia

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Åberg, Karolina (2005)
  • Publisher: Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis
  • Subject: psychiatric genetics | QKI | large pedigree | haplotype investigation | mRNAexpression | genetic linkage | myelin | HTR2C | Biology | Biologi

Schizophrenia is one of our most common psychiatric diseases. It severely affects all aspects of psychological functions and results in loss of contact with reality. No cure exists and the treatments available today produce only partial relief for disease symptoms. The aim of this work is to better understand the etiology of schizophrenia by identification of candidate genes and gene pathways involved in the development of the disease. In a preliminarily study, the effects of medication and genetic factors were investigated in a candidate gene, serotonin 2C receptor. This study distinguished pharmacological effects, caused by neuroleptics, and/or genetic effects, caused by unique polymorphisms, from other effects responsible for mRNA expression changes on candidate genes. The core of the thesis describes a new candidate gene for schizophrenia, the quaking homolog, KH domain RNA binding (mouse) or QKI, located on chromosome 6q26-q27. The identification of QKI is supported by previous linkage studies, current association studies and mRNA expression studies using three different sample sets. The investigated samples included a 12-generation pedigree with 16 distantly related schizophrenic cases and their parents, 176 unrelated nuclear families with at least one affected child in each family and human brain autopsies from 55 schizophrenic cases and from 55 controls. Indirect evidence showing involvement of QKI in myelin regulation of central nervous system is presented. Myelin plays an important role in development of normal brains and disruption of QKI might lead to schizophrenia symptoms. In a forth sample set, including extended pedigrees originated from a geographically isolated area above the Arctic Circle, in northeast Sweden, two additional schizophrenia susceptibility loci were identified, 2q13 and 5q21. Both these regions have previously been highlighted as potential schizophrenia loci in several other investigations, including a large Finnish study. This suggests common schizophrenia susceptibility loci for Nordic populations. A pilot investigation including a genome wide haplotype analysis is presented. This statistical strategy could be further developed and applied to the artic Swedish families, including analysis of 900 microsatellites and 10,000 SNPs. These findings will facilitate the understanding of the schizophrenia etiology and may lead to development of more efficient treatments for patients that suffer from schizophrenia.
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