Cis-effects on gene expression in the human prenatal brain associated with genetic risk for neuropsychiatric disorders

Lynsey S. Hall, Oliver Pain, Heath E. O’Brien, Richard Anney, James T.R. Walters, Michael J. Owen, Michael C. O’Donovan, Nicholas J. Bray*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The majority of common risk alleles identified for neuropsychiatric disorders reside in noncoding regions of the genome and are therefore likely to impact gene regulation. However, the genes that are primarily affected and the nature and developmental timing of these effects remain unclear. Given the hypothesized role for early neurodevelopmental processes in these conditions, we here define genetic predictors of gene expression in the human fetal brain with which we perform transcriptome-wide association studies (TWASs) of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, and schizophrenia. We identify prenatal cis-regulatory effects on 63 genes and 166 individual transcripts associated with genetic risk for these conditions. We observe pleiotropic effects of expression predictors for a number of genes and transcripts, including those of decreased DDHD2 expression in association with risk for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, increased expression of a ST3GAL3 transcript with risk for schizophrenia and ADHD, and increased expression of an XPNPEP3 transcript with risk for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression. For the protocadherin alpha cluster genes PCDHA7 and PCDHA8, we find that predictors of low expression are associated with risk for major depressive disorder while those of higher expression are associated with risk for schizophrenia. Our findings support a role for altered gene regulation in the prenatal brain in susceptibility to various neuropsychiatric disorders and prioritize potential risk genes for further neurobiological investigation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular Psychiatry
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2020

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