DEGS2 polymorphism associated with cognition in schizophrenia is associated with gene expression in brain

Transl Psychiatry. 2015 Apr 14;5(4):e550. doi: 10.1038/tp.2015.45.


A genome-wide association study of cognitive deficits in patients with schizophrenia in Japan found association with a missense genetic variant (rs7157599, Asn8Ser) in the delta(4)-desaturase, sphingolipid 2 (DEGS2) gene. A replication analysis using Caucasian samples showed a directionally consistent trend for cognitive association of a proxy single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), rs3783332. Although the DEGS2 gene is expressed in human brain, it is unknown how DEGS2 expression varies during human life and whether it is affected by psychiatric disorders and genetic variants. To address these questions, we examined DEGS2 messenger RNA using next-generation sequencing in postmortem dorsolateral prefrontal cortical tissue from a total of 418 Caucasian samples including patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder. DEGS2 is expressed at very low levels prenatally and increases gradually from birth to adolescence and consistently expressed across adulthood. Rs3783332 genotype was significantly associated with the expression across all subjects (F3,348=10.79, P=1.12 × 10(-)(3)), particularly in control subjects (F1,87=13.14, P=4.86 × 10(-4)). Similar results were found with rs715799 genotype. The carriers of the risk-associated minor allele at both loci showed significantly lower expression compared with subjects homozygous for the non-risk major allele and this was a consistent finding across all diagnostic groups. DEGS2 expression showed no association with diagnostic status after correcting for multiple testing (P>0.05). Our findings demonstrate that a SNP showing genome-wide association study significant association with cognition in schizophrenia is also associated with regulation of DEGS2 expression, implicating a molecular mechanism for the clinical association.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alleles
  • Bipolar Disorder / genetics
  • Bipolar Disorder / metabolism
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition Disorders / genetics*
  • Cognition Disorders / metabolism
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / genetics
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / metabolism
  • Fatty Acid Desaturases / genetics*
  • Fatty Acid Desaturases / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Prefrontal Cortex / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • Schizophrenia / genetics*
  • Schizophrenia / metabolism
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*
  • Young Adult


  • RNA, Messenger
  • DEGS2 protein, human
  • Fatty Acid Desaturases