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Human Molecular Genetics

Year: 2009  |  Volume: 18  |  Issue: 14  |  Page No.: 2719 - 2727

The DISC locus and schizophrenia: evidence from an association study in a central European sample and from a meta-analysis across different European populations

J Schumacher, G Laje, R. A Jamra, T Becker, T. W Muhleisen, C Vasilescu, M Mattheisen, S Herms, P Hoffmann, A. M Hillmer, A Georgi, C Herold, T. G Schulze, P Propping, M Rietschel, F. J McMahon, M. M Nothen and S. Cichon


Association studies, as well as the initial translocation family study, identified the gene Disrupted-In-Schizophrenia-1 (DISC1) as a risk factor for schizophrenia. DISC1 encodes a multifunctional scaffold protein involved in neurodevelopmental processes implicated in the etiology of schizophrenia. The present study explores the contribution of the DISC locus to schizophrenia using three different approaches: (i) systematic association mapping aimed at detecting DISC risk variants in a schizophrenia sample from a central European population (556 SNPs, n = 1621 individuals). In this homogenous sample, a circumscribed DISC1 interval in intron 9 was significantly associated with schizophrenia in females (P = 4 x 10–5) and contributed most strongly to early-onset cases (P = 9 x 10–5). The odds ratios (ORs) were in the range of 1.46–1.88. (ii) The same sample was used to test for the locus-specific SNP–SNP interaction most recently associated with schizophrenia. Our results confirm the SNP interplay effect between rs1538979 and rs821633 that significantly conferred disease risk in male patients with schizophrenia (P = 0.016, OR 1.57). (iii) In order to detect additional schizophrenia variants, a meta-analysis was performed using nine schizophrenia samples from different European populations (50 SNPs, n = 10 064 individuals maximum, n = 3694 minimum). We found evidence for a common schizophrenia risk interval within DISC1 intron 4–6 (P = 0.002, OR 1.27). The findings point to a complex association between schizophrenia and DISC, including the presence of different risk loci and SNP interplay effects. Furthermore, our phenotype–genotype results—including the consideration of sex-specific effects—highlight the value of homogenous samples in mapping risk genes for schizophrenia in general, and at the DISC locus in particular.

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