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Genetic identification of brain cell types underlying schizophrenia

By Nathan G. Skene, Julien Bryois, Trygve E. Bakken, Gerome Breen, James J. Crowley, Héléna A. Gaspar, Paola Giusti-Rodriguez, Rebecca D. Hodge, Miller Jeremy A., Ana Muñoz-Manchado, Michael C. O'Donovan, Michael J. Owen, Antonio Pardinas, Jesper Ryge, James T. R. Walters, Sten Linnarsson, Ed S. Lein, Patrick F. Sullivan and Jens Hjerling-Leffler


With few exceptions, the marked advances in knowledge about the genetic basis of schizophrenia have not converged on findings that can be confidently used for precise experimental modeling. Applying knowledge of the cellular taxonomy of the brain from single-cell RNA-sequencing, we evaluated whether the genomic loci implicated in schizophrenia map onto specific brain cell types. We found that the common variant genomic results consistently mapped to pyramidal cells, medium spiny neurons, and certain interneurons but far less consistently to embryonic, progenitor, or glial cells. These enrichments were due to sets of genes specifically expressed in each of these cell types. We also found that many of the diverse gene sets previously associated with schizophrenia (synaptic genes, FMRP interactors, antipsychotic targets, etc.) generally implicate the same brain cell types. Our results suggest a parsimonious explanation: the common-variant genetic results for schizophrenia point at a limited set of neurons, and the gene sets point to the same cells. The genetic risk associated with medium spiny neurons did not overlap with that of glutamatergic pyramidal cells and interneurons, suggesting that different cell types have biologically distinct roles in schizophrenia

Publisher: 'Springer Science and Business Media LLC'
Year: 2018
DOI identifier: 10.1038/s41588-018-0129-5
OAI identifier: oai:

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