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Association between schizophrenia and both loss of function and missense mutations in paralog conserved sites of voltage-gated sodium channels

By Elliott Rees, Noa Carrera, Joanne Morgan, Kirsty Hambridge, Valentina Escott-Price, Andrew J. Pocklington, Alexander L Richards, Antonio F. Pardiñas, GROUP Investigators, Colm McDonald, Gary Donohoe, Derek W. Morris, Elaine Kenny, Eric Kelleher, Michael Gill, Aiden Corvin, George Kirov, James T. R. Walters, Peter Holmans, Michael J Owen, Michael C O’Donovan

Posted 12 Jan 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/246850

Sequencing studies have highlighted candidate sets of genes involved in schizophrenia, including activity-regulated cytoskeleton-associated protein (ARC) and N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) complexes. Two genes, SETD1A and RBM12, have also been associated with robust statistical evidence. Larger samples and novel methods for identifying disease-associated missense variants are needed to reveal novel genes and biological mechanisms associated with schizophrenia. We sequenced 187 genes, selected for prior evidence of association with schizophrenia, in a new dataset of 5,207 cases and 4,991 controls. Included were members of ARC and NMDAR post-synaptic protein complexes, as well as voltage-gated sodium and calcium channels. We observed a significant case excess of rare (<0.1% in frequency) loss-of-function (LoF) mutations across all 187 genes (OR = 1.36; Pcorrected = 0.0072) but no individual gene was associated with schizophrenia after correcting for multiple testing. We found novel evidence that LoF and missense variants at paralog conserved sites were enriched in sodium channels (OR = 1.26; P = 0.0035). Meta-analysis of our new data with published sequencing data (11,319 cases, 15,854 controls and 1,136 trios) supported and refined this association to sodium channel alpha subunits (P = 0.0029). Meta-analysis also confirmed association between schizophrenia and rare variants in ARC (P = 4.0 x 10-4) and NMDAR (P = 1.7 x 10-5) synaptic genes. No association was found between rare variants in calcium channels and schizophrenia. In one of the largest sequencing studies of schizophrenia to date, we provide novel evidence that multiple voltage-gated sodium channels are involved in schizophrenia pathogenesis, and increase the evidence for association between rare variants in ARC and NMDAR post-synaptic complexes and schizophrenia. Larger samples are required to identify specific genes and variants driving these associations.

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