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Dynamic expression of risk genes for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder across development

By Cristina Roldán-Jiménez, Eilís Hannon, Arianna Di Florio, Kerrie L Thomas, Peter Holmans, James TR Walters, Michael C O’Donovan, Michael J Owen, Andrew J. Pocklington, Jeremy Hall

Posted 29 May 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/333104

Common genetic variation contributes a substantial proportion of risk for both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Furthermore, there is evidence of significant, but not complete, overlap in genetic risk between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. It has been hypothesised that genetic variants conferring risk for these disorders do so by influencing brain development, leading to the later emergence of symptoms. The comparative profile of risk gene expression for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder across development over different brain regions however remains unclear. Using genotypes derived from genome wide associations studies of the largest available cohorts of patients and control subjects, we investigated whether genes enriched for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder association show a bias for expression across any of 13 developmental stages in prefrontal cortical and subcortical brain regions. We show that genes associated with schizophrenia have a strong bias towards increased expression in the prefrontal cortex during early midfetal development and early infancy, and decreased expression during late childhood which normalises in adolescence. Risk-associated genes for bipolar disorder shared this postnatal expression profile but did not exhibit a bias towards expression at any prenatal stage. These results emphasise the dynamic expression of genes harbouring risk for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder across prefrontal cortex development and support the view that prenatal neurodevelopmental events are more strongly associated with schizophrenia than bipolar disorder.

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