Downregulation of GNA13-ERK network in prefrontal cortex of schizophrenia brain identified by combined focused and targeted quantitative proteomics

J Proteomics. 2017 Mar 31;158:31-42. doi: 10.1016/j.jprot.2017.02.009. Epub 2017 Feb 16.


Schizophrenia is a disabling mental illness associated with dysfunction of the prefrontal cortex, which affects cognition and emotion. The purpose of the present study was to identify altered molecular networks in the prefrontal cortex of schizophrenia patients by comparing protein expression levels in autopsied brains of patients and controls, using a combination of targeted and focused quantitative proteomics. We selected 125 molecules possibly related to schizophrenia for quantification by knowledge-based targeted proteomics. Among the quantified molecules, GRIK4 and MAO-B were significantly decreased in plasma membrane and cytosolic fractions, respectively, of prefrontal cortex. Focused quantitative proteomics identified 15 increased and 39 decreased proteins. Network analysis identified "GNA13-ERK1-eIF4G2 signaling" as a downregulated network, and proteins involved in this network were significantly decreased. Furthermore, searching downstream of eIF4G2 revealed that eIF4A1/2 and CYFIP1 were decreased, suggesting that downregulation of the network suppresses expression of CYFIP1, which regulates actin remodeling and is involved in axon outgrowth and spine formation. Downregulation of this signaling seems likely to impair axon formation and synapse plasticity of neuronal cells, and could be associated with development of cognitive impairment in the pathology of schizophrenia.

Biological significance: The present study compared the proteome of the prefrontal cortex between schizophrenia patients and healthy controls by means of targeted proteomics and global quantitative proteomics. Targeted proteomics revealed that GRIK4 and MAOB were significantly decreased among 125 putatively schizophrenia-related proteins in prefrontal cortex of schizophrenia patients. Global quantitative proteomics identified 54 differentially expressed proteins in schizophrenia brains. The protein profile indicates attenuation of "GNA13-ERK signaling" in schizophrenia brain. In particular, EIF4G2 and CYFIP1, which are located downstream of the GNA13-ERK network, were decreased, suggesting that the attenuation of this signal network may cause impairment of axon formation and synapse plasticity in the brain of schizophrenia patients. Our results provide a novel insight into schizophrenia pathology, and could be helpful for drug development.

Keywords: GNA13; Molecular network; Prefrontal cortex; Quantitative proteomics; Schizophrenia; Targeted proteomics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing / metabolism
  • Down-Regulation*
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-4G / metabolism
  • Female
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gq-G11 / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System*
  • Male
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3 / metabolism*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / metabolism*
  • Proteomics
  • Schizophrenia / metabolism*


  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • CYFIP1 protein, human
  • EIF4G2 protein, human
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-4G
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gq-G11