Modeling the contribution of common variants to schizophrenia risk.
Monday, February 5
3:00 PM - 3:30 PM
Schizophrenia (SZ) is a debilitating psychiatric disorder for which the complex genetic mechanisms underlying the disease state remain unclear. Whereas highly penetrant variants have proven well-suited to human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-based models, the power of hiPSC-based studies to resolve the much smaller effects of common variants within the size of cohorts that can be realistically assembled remains uncertain. We identified microRNA-9 as having significantly downregulated levels and activity in a subset of SZ hiPSC-derived neural progenitor cells NPCs, a finding that was corroborated by a larger replication cohort and further validated by an independent gene-set enrichment analysis of the largest SZ genome-wide association study (GWAS) to date. Overall, this demonstrated a remarkable convergence of independent hiPSC- and genetics-based discovery approaches. In developing this larger case/control SZ hiPSC cohort of hiPSC-derived NPCs and neurons, we identified a variety of sources of variation, but by reducing the stochastic effects of the differentiation process, we observed a significant concordance with two large post mortem datasets. We predict a growing convergence between hiPSC and post mortem studies as both approaches expand to larger cohort sizes. Meanwhile, we have been integrating CRISPR-mediated gene editing, activation and repression technologies with our hiPSC-based neural platform, in order to develop a scalable system for testing the effect of a manipulating the growing number of SZ-associated variants and genes in NPCs, neurons and astrocytes. Altogether, our objective is to understand the cell-type specific contributions of SZ risk variants to disease predisposition.