Markers at the pericentriolar material 1 gene (PCM1) have shown genetic association with schizophrenia in both a University College London (UCL) and a USA-based case-control sample. In this paper we report a statistically significant replication of the PCM1 association in a large Scottish case-control sample from Aberdeen. Resequencing of the genomic DNA from research volunteers who had inherited haplotypes associated with schizophrenia showed a threonine to isoleucine missense mutation in exon 24 which was likely to change the structure and function of PCM1 (rs370429). This mutation was found only as a heterozygote in 98 schizophrenic research subjects and controls out of 2246 case and control research subjects. Among the 98 carriers of rs370429, 67 were affected with schizophrenia. The same alleles and haplotypes were associated with schizophrenia in both the London and Aberdeen samples. Another potential aetiological base pair change in PCM1 was rs445422, which altered a splice site signal. A further mutation, rs208747, was shown by electrophoretic mobility shift assays to create or destroy a promoter transcription factor site. Five further non-synonymous changes in exons were also found. Genotyping of the new variants discovered in the UCL case-control sample strengthened the evidence for allelic and haplotypic association (P=0.02-0.0002). Given the number and identity of the haplotypes associated with schizophrenia, further aetiological base pair changes must exist within and around the PCM1 gene. PCM1 protein has been shown to interact directly with the disrupted-in-schizophrenia 1 (DISC1) protein, Bardet-Biedl syndrome 4, and Huntingtin-associated protein 1, and is important in neuronal cell growth. In a separate study we found that clozapine but not haloperidol downregulated PCM1 expression in the mouse brain. We hypothesize that mutant PCM1 may be responsible for causing a subtype of schizophrenia through abnormal cell division and abnormal regeneration in dividing cells in the central nervous system. This is supported by our previous finding of orbitofrontal volumetric deficits in PCM1-associated schizophrenia patients as opposed to temporal pole deficits in non-PCM1-associated schizophrenia patients. Caution needs to be exercised in interpreting the actual biological effects of the mutations we have found without further cell biology. However, the DNA changes we have found deserve widespread genotyping in multiple case-control populations.
Bibliographical noteThis work was funded by the Neuroscience Research Charitable Trust.