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A rare variant in D-amino acid oxidase implicates NMDA receptor signaling and cerebellar gene networks in risk for bipolar disorder

By Naushaba Hasin, Lace M Riggs, Tatyana Shekhtman, Justin Ashworth, Robert Lease, Rediet T Oshone, Elizabeth M Humphries, Judith A Badner, Pippa A Thompson, David C. Glahn, David W. Craig, Howard Edenberg, Elliot S Gershon, Francis J. McMahon, John I Nurnberger, Peter P. Zandi, John R. Kelsoe, Jared C Roach, Todd D Gould, Seth A Ament

Posted 05 Jun 2021
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.06.02.21258261

Bipolar disorder is an often-severe mental health disorder characterized by alternation between extreme mood states of mania and depression. Despite strong heritability and the recent identification of 64 loci of small effect, pathophysiological mechanisms and much of the genetic risk remain unknown. Here, through genome sequencing and linkage and association analyses, we found that rare variants co-segregating with bipolar disorder in large multiply affected families cluster within gene networks enriched for synaptic and nuclear functions. The top variant in this analysis prioritized by statistical association, predicted deleteriousness, and network centrality was a missense variant in the gene encoding D-amino acid oxidase (DAOG131V). Heterologous expression of DAOG131V in human cells resulted in decreased DAO protein abundance and enzymatic activity. In a knock-in mouse harboring this human DAOG131V variant, DaoG130V/+, we similarly found decreased DAO protein abundance, as well as enhanced stress susceptibility and blunted behavioral responses to pharmacological inhibition of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDARs). RNA sequencing of cerebellar tissue revealed that DaoG130V resulted in decreased expression of two gene networks that are enriched for synaptic functions and for genes expressed specifically in Purkinje cells and granule neurons. Similar expression changes in both of these gene networks were also identified in the cerebellum of bipolar disorder cases vs. controls. These findings implicate dysregulation of NMDAR signaling and of gene expression in cerebellar neurons in bipolar disorder pathophysiology and provide insight into its genetic architecture.

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