Generating Testable Hypotheses for Schizophrenia and Rheumatoid Arthritis Pathogenesis by Integrating Epidemiological, Genomic, and Protein Interaction Data

NPJ Schizophr. 2017 Feb 24;3:11. doi: 10.1038/s41537-017-0010-z. eCollection 2017.


Patients with schizophrenia and their relatives have reduced prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis. Schizophrenia and rheumatoid arthritis genome-wide association studies also indicate negative genetic correlations, suggesting that there may be shared pathogenesis at the DNA level or downstream. A portion of the inverse prevalence could be attributed to pleiotropy, i.e., variants of a single nucleotide polymorphism that could confer differential risk for these disorders. To study the basis for such an interrelationship, we initially compared lists of single nucleotide polymorphisms with significant genetic associations (p < 1e-8) for schizophrenia or rheumatoid arthritis, evaluating patterns of linkage disequilibrium and apparent pleiotropic risk profiles. Single nucleotide polymorphisms that conferred risk for both schizophrenia and rheumatoid arthritis were localized solely to the extended HLA region. Among single nucleotide polymorphisms that conferred differential risk for schizophrenia and rheumatoid arthritis, the majority were localized to HLA-B, TNXB, NOTCH4, HLA-C, HCP5, MICB, PSORS1C1, and C6orf10; published functional data indicate that HLA-B and HLA-C have the most plausible pathogenic roles in both disorders. Interactomes of these eight genes were constructed from protein-protein interaction information using publicly available databases and novel computational predictions. The genes harboring apparently pleiotropic single nucleotide polymorphisms are closely connected to rheumatoid arthritis and schizophrenia associated genes through common interacting partners. A separate and independent analysis of the interactomes of rheumatoid arthritis and schizophrenia genes showed a significant overlap between the two interactomes and that they share several common pathways, motivating functional studies suggesting a relationship in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia/rheumatoid arthritis.