A novel, putative gain-of-function haplotype at SLC6A4 associates with obsessive-compulsive disorder

Hum Mol Genet. 2008 Mar 1;17(5):717-23. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddm343. Epub 2007 Nov 30.


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a disabling neuropsychiatric illness with strong segregation data indicative of major genetic contributions. Association analyses of common functional variants of the serotonin transporter gene (SLC6A4), a long-standing OCD candidate, have so far been inconsistent. Here, we set out to investigate the role of additional functional SLC6A4 loci in OCD. We describe a common, functional C > T single nucleotide polymorphism, rs25532, located less than 150 nucleotides centromeric of the serotonin transporter-linked polymorphic region indel known as 5-HTTLPR. The minor allele of rs25532 significantly decreased luciferase reporter gene expression levels by 15-80%, depending on 5-HTTLPR allele background and cell type. Haplotype-based testing of rs25532 and all other known non-coding functional SLC6A4 variants revealed a highly significant omnibus association with OCD in a large case-control sample. Remarkably, the haplotype significantly overrepresented in probands contained the higher-expressing allele at each locus, supporting the notion of increased serotonin transporter functioning being pathogenetically involved in OCD. Conditional haplotype analyses with the software WHAP revealed that this association is primarily driven by 5-HTTLPR, rs25532 and rs16965628. Our results contribute to a better understanding of SLC6A4 expression genetics and provide a functional haplotype framework for future serotonin-related studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Base Sequence
  • Case-Control Studies
  • DNA / genetics
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Haplotypes*
  • Humans
  • Luciferases, Renilla / metabolism
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / genetics*
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / physiopathology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics*
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Whites


  • SLC6A4 protein, human
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • DNA
  • Luciferases, Renilla