MicroRNA dysregulation, gene networks and risk for schizophrenia in 22q11.2 deletion syndrome

Daniele Merico, Gregory Costain, Nancy J. Butcher, William Warnica, Lucas Ogura, Simon E. Alfred, Linda M. Brzustowicz, Anne S. Bassett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The role of microRNAs (miRNAs) in the aetiology of schizophrenia is increasingly recognized. Microdeletions at chromosome 22q11.2 are recurrent structural variants that impart a high risk for schizophrenia and are found in up to 1% of all patients with schizophrenia. The 22q11.2 deletion region overlaps gene DGCR8, encoding a subunit of the miRNA microprocessor complex. We identified miRNAs overlapped by the 22q11.2 microdeletion and for the first time investigated their predicted target genes, and those implicated by DGCR8, to identify targets that may be involved in the risk for schizophrenia. The 22q11.2 region encompasses seven validated or putative miRNA genes. Employing two standard prediction tools, we generated sets of predicted target genes. Functional enrichment profiles of the 22q11.2 region miRNA target genes suggested a role in neuronal processes and broader developmental pathways. We then constructed a protein interaction network of schizophrenia candidate genes and interaction partners relevant to brain function, independent of the 22q11.2 region miRNA mechanisms. We found that the predicted gene targets of the 22q11.2 deletion miRNAs, and targets of the genome-wide miRNAs predicted to be dysregulated by DGCR8 hemizygosity, were significantly represented in this schizophrenia network. The findings provide new insights into the pathway from 22q11.2 deletion to expression of schizophrenia, and suggest that hemizygosity of the 22q11.2 region may have downstream effects implicating genes elsewhere in the genome that are relevant to the general schizophrenia population. These data also provide further support for the notion that robust genetic findings in schizophrenia may converge on a reasonable number of final pathways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number238
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
Issue numberNOV
StatePublished - 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


  • 22q11 deletion syndrome
  • 22q11.2
  • Congenital cardiac defect
  • DGCR8
  • DiGeorge syndrome
  • Disease gene prediction
  • Dopamine
  • GRIA1
  • Gene dosage
  • Glutamate
  • Pathway analysis
  • Protein interaction network
  • Schizophrenia
  • Synapse
  • miR-1286
  • miR-1306
  • miR-185
  • miR-3618
  • miR-4761
  • miR-649
  • miR-6816
  • microRNA


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