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The schizophrenia-associated variant in SLC39A8 alters N-glycosylation in the mouse brain

By Robert G. Mealer, Sarah E. Williams, Maxence Noel, Bo Yang, Alexandria D’Souza, Toru Nakata, Daniel B. Graham, Elizabeth A. Creasey, Murat Cetinbas, Ruslan Sadreyev, Edward M. Scolnick, Christina M Woo, Jordan W. Smoller, Ramnik J. Xavier, Richard D. Cummings

Posted 23 Dec 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.12.22.424076

A missense mutation (A391T) in the manganese transporter SLC39A8 is strongly associated with schizophrenia in genomic studies, though the molecular connection to the brain remains hypothetical. Human carriers of A391T have reduced serum manganese, altered plasma glycosylation, and brain MRI changes consistent with altered metal transport. Here, using a knock-in mouse model homozygous for A391T, we show that the schizophrenia-associated variant changes protein glycosylation in the brain. N-linked glycosylation was most significantly impaired, with effects differing between regions. RNAseq analysis showed negligible regional variation, consistent with changes in the activity of glycosylation enzymes rather than gene expression. Finally, nearly one third of detected glycoproteins were differentially N-glycosylated in the cortex, including members of several pathways previously implicated in schizophrenia such as cell adhesion molecules and neurotransmitter receptors. These findings provide a mechanistic link between a risk allele and biochemical changes in the brain, furthering our molecular understanding of the pathophysiology of schizophrenia.

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