Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified more than 100 loci that show robust association with schizophrenia risk. However, due to the complexity of linkage disequilibrium and gene regulatory, it is challenging to pinpoint the causal genes at the risk loci and translate the genetic findings from GWAS into disease mechanism and clinical treatment. Here we systematically predicted the plausible candidate causal genes for schizophrenia at genome-wide level. We utilized different approaches and strategies to predict causal genes for schizophrenia, including Sherlock, SMR, DAPPLE, Prix Fixe, NetWAS, and DEPICT. By integrating the results from different prediction approaches, we identified six top candidates that represent promising causal genes for schizophrenia, including CNTN4, GATAD2A, GPM6A, MMP16, PSMA4, and TCF4. Besides, we also identified 35 additional high-confidence causal genes for schizophrenia. The identified causal genes showed distinct spatio-temporal expression patterns in developing and adult human brain. Cell-type-specific expression analysis indicated that the expression level of the predicted causal genes was significantly higher in neurons compared with oligodendrocytes and microglia (P < 0.05). We found that synaptic transmission-related genes were significantly enriched among the identified causal genes (P < 0.05), providing further support for the dysregulation of synaptic transmission in schizophrenia. Finally, we showed that the top six causal genes are dysregulated in schizophrenia cases compared with controls and knockdown of these genes impaired the proliferation of neuronal cells. Our study depicts the landscape of plausible schizophrenia causal genes for the first time. Further genetic and functional validation of these genes will provide mechanistic insights into schizophrenia pathogenesis and may facilitate to provide potential targets for future therapeutics and diagnostics.
Translational Psychiatry – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 15, 2018
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