Genetic association studies provide considerable evidence that the 10-repeat allele of a variable number tandem repeat (VNTR) in the 3'-untranslated region (3'-UTR) of the dopamine transporter gene (DAT1) is associated with a range of psychiatric phenotypes, most notably, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The mechanism for this association is not yet understood, although several lines of evidence implicate variation in gene expression. In this study, we measured DAT1 messenger RNA levels in cerebellum, temporal lobe, and lymphocytes using quantitative real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction. Relative to a set of four control housekeeping genes (beta-actin, GAPD, ribosomal 18S, and beta2-microglobulin) we observed that increased levels of DAT1 expression were associated with the number of 10-repeat alleles. These data provide direct evidence that the VNTR, or another polymorphism in linkage disequilibrium with the VNTR, is involved in regulating expression of this gene.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.