The Proteome of BLOC-1 Genetic Defects Identifies the Arp2/3 Actin Polymerization Complex to Function Downstream of the Schizophrenia Susceptibility Factor Dysbindin at the Synapse

J Neurosci. 2016 Dec 7;36(49):12393-12411. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1321-16.2016.


Proteome modifications downstream of monogenic or polygenic disorders have the potential to uncover novel molecular mechanisms participating in pathogenesis and/or extragenic modification of phenotypic expression. We tested this idea by determining the proteome sensitive to genetic defects in a locus encoding dysbindin, a protein required for synapse biology and implicated in schizophrenia risk. We applied quantitative mass spectrometry to identify proteins expressed in neuronal cells the abundance of which was altered after downregulation of the schizophrenia susceptibility factor dysbindin (Bloc1s8) or two other dysbindin-interacting polypeptides, which assemble into the octameric biogenesis of lysosome-related organelles complex 1 (BLOC-1). We found 491 proteins sensitive to dysbindin and BLOC-1 loss of function. Gene ontology of these 491 proteins singled out the actin cytoskeleton and the actin polymerization factor, the Arp2/3 complex, as top statistical molecular pathways contained within the BLOC-1-sensitive proteome. Subunits of the Arp2/3 complex were downregulated by BLOC-1 loss of function, thus affecting actin dynamics in early endosomes of BLOC-1-deficient cells. Furthermore, we demonstrated that Arp2/3, dysbindin, and subunits of the BLOC-1 complex biochemically and genetically interact, modulating Drosophila melanogaster synapse morphology and homeostatic synaptic plasticity. Our results indicate that ontologically prioritized proteomics identifies novel pathways that modify synaptic phenotypes associated with neurodevelopmental disorder gene defects.

Significance statement: The mechanisms associated with schizophrenia are mostly unknown despite the increasing number of genetic loci identified that increase disease risk. We present an experimental strategy that impartially and comprehensively interrogates the proteome of neurons to identify effects of genetic mutations in a schizophrenia risk factor, dysbindin. We find that the expression of the actin polymerization complex Arp2/3 is reduced in dysbindin-deficient cells, thus affecting actin-dependent phenotypes in two cellular compartments where dysbindin resides, endosomes and presynapses. Our studies indicate that a central cellular structure affected by schizophrenia susceptibility loci is the actin cytoskeleton, an organelle necessary for synaptic function in the presynaptic and postsynaptic compartment.

Keywords: Arp2/3; BLOC-1; dysbindin; proteomics; schizophrenia; synapse.

MeSH terms

  • Actin-Related Protein 3 / genetics*
  • Actins / genetics
  • Angiopoietin-like Proteins
  • Angiopoietins / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytoskeleton / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Dysbindin
  • Dystrophin-Associated Proteins / genetics*
  • Female
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Lectins / genetics*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Polymerization
  • Proteome
  • Schizophrenia / genetics*
  • Synapses*


  • Actin-Related Protein 3
  • Actins
  • Actr3 protein, mouse
  • Angiopoietin-like Proteins
  • Angiopoietins
  • Angptl2 protein, mouse
  • Bloc1s6 protein, mouse
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Dtnbp1 protein, mouse
  • Dysbindin
  • Dystrophin-Associated Proteins
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Lectins
  • Proteome