Developmental Profile of Psychiatric Risk Associated With Voltage-Gated Cation Channel Activity

Image credit: Biological Psychiatry


Background. Recent breakthroughs in psychiatric genetics have implicated biological pathways onto which genetic risk for psychiatric disorders converges. However, these studies do not reveal the developmental time point(s) at which these pathways are relevant. Methods. We aimed to determine the relationship between psychiatric risk and developmental gene expression relating to discrete biological pathways. We used postmortem RNA sequencing data (BrainSeq and BrainSpan) from brain tissue at multiple prenatal and postnatal time points, with summary statistics from recent genome-wide association studies of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder. We prioritized gene sets for overall enrichment of association with each disorder and then tested the relationship between the association of their constituent genes with their relative expression at each developmental stage. Results. We observed relationships between the expression of genes involved in voltage-gated cation channel activity during early midfetal, adolescence, and early adulthood time points and association with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, such that genes more strongly associated with these disorders had relatively low expression during early midfetal development and higher expression during adolescence and early adulthood. The relationship with schizophrenia was strongest for the subset of genes related to calcium channel activity, while for bipolar disorder, the relationship was distributed between calcium and potassium channel activity genes. Conclusions. Our results indicate periods during development when biological pathways related to the activity of calcium and potassium channels may be most vulnerable to the effects of genetic variants conferring risk for psychiatric disorders. Furthermore, they indicate key time points and potential targets for disorder-specific therapeutic interventions.

Biological Psychiatry
Leonardo Collado-Torres
Leonardo Collado-Torres
Investigator @ LIBD, Assistant Professor, Department of Biostatistics @ JHBSPH

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