Biological psychiatry

Candidate gene analysis of the human natural killer-1 carbohydrate pathway and perineuronal nets in schizophrenia: B3GAT2 is associated with disease risk and cortical surface area.

PMID 20950796


The Human Natural Killer-1 carbohydrate (HNK-1) is involved in neurodevelopment and synaptic plasticity. Extracellular matrix structures called perineuronal nets, condensed around subsets of neurons and proximal dendrites during brain maturation, regulate synaptic transmission and plasticity. Ten genes of importance for HNK-1 biosynthesis (B3GAT1, B3GAT2, and CHST10) or for the formation of perineuronal nets (TNR, BCAN, NCAN, HAPLN1, HAPLN2, HAPLN3, and HAPLN4) were investigated for potential involvement in schizophrenia (SCZ) susceptibility, by genotyping 104 tagSNPs in the Scandinavian Collaboration on Psychiatric Etiology sample (849 cases; 1602 control subjects). Genome-wide association study imputation data from the European SGENE-plus sample (2663 cases; 13,498 control subjects) were used for comparison. The effect of SCZ risk alleles on brain structure was investigated in a Norwegian subset (98 cases; 177 control subjects) with structural magnetic resonance imaging data. Five single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), located in two adjacent estimated linkage disequilibrium blocks in the first intron of β-1,3-glucuronyltransferase 2 (B3GAT2), were nominally associated with SCZ (.004 ≤ P(empirical) ≤ .05). The rs2460691 was significantly associated in the comparison sample and in the meta-analysis after correction for all 121 SNP/haplotype tests (P(raw) = 1 × 10(-4); P(corrected) = .018). Increased dosage of the rs2460691 SCZ risk allele was associated with decreased cortical area (p = .002) but not thickness or hippocampal volume. A second SNP (r(2) = .24 with rs10945275), which conferred the highest SCZ risk effect in the Norwegian subset, was also associated with cortical area. The present results suggest that effects on biosynthesis of the neuronal epitope HNK-1, through common B3GAT2 variation, could increase the risk of SCZ, possibly by decreasing cortical area.