Association between schizophrenia and genetic variation in DCC: a case-control study

Schizophr Res. 2012 May;137(1-3):26-31. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2012.02.023. Epub 2012 Mar 13.


Schizophrenia is a highly heritable neurodevelopmental disorder associated with alterations in synaptic connectivity. Deleted in colorectal cancer (DCC), a receptor for the guidance cue netrin-1, plays a pivotal role in organizing neuronal circuitry by guiding growing axons and dendrites to their correct targets and by influencing synaptic connectivity. Results from experiments we previously conducted in dcc-heterozygous mice show that DCC plays a critical role in the developmental organization of the mesocorticolimbic dopamine (DA) circuitry. Furthermore we have shown that reduced expression of DCC during development and/or throughout life confers resilience to the development of schizophrenia-like DA and behavioural abnormalities. Importantly, this "protective" phenotype only emerges after puberty. Here we assess whether DCC may contribute to the risk of schizophrenia. We examined single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) located in the DCC gene for association with schizophrenia using a case-control sample consisting of 556 unrelated schizophrenic patients and 208 healthy controls. We found one SNP, rs2270954, to be nominally associated with schizophrenia; patients were less likely to be heterozygous at this locus and more likely to be homozygous for the minor allele (χ(2)=9.84, df=2, nominal p=0.0071). Intriguingly, this SNP is located within the 3' untranslated region, an area known to contain a number of regulatory sequences that determine the stability and translation efficacy of mRNA. These results, together with our previous findings from studies in rodents, point at DCC as a promising novel candidate gene that may contribute to the genetic basis behind individual differences in susceptibility to schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • DCC Receptor
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics*
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Linkage Disequilibrium
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / genetics*
  • Schizophrenia / genetics*
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / genetics*


  • DCC Receptor
  • DCC protein, human
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins