Matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP-9) has recently emerged as a molecule that contributes to pathological synaptic plasticity in schizophrenia, but explanation of the underlying mechanisms has been missing. In the present study, we performed a phenotype-based genetic association study (PGAS) in > 1,000 schizophrenia patients from the Göttingen Research Association for Schizophrenia (GRAS) data collection and found an association between the MMP-9 rs20544 C/T single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) located in the 3'untranslated region (UTR) and the severity of a chronic delusional syndrome. In cultured neurons, the rs20544 SNP influenced synaptic MMP-9 activity and the morphology of dendritic spines. We demonstrated that Fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP) bound the MMP-9 3'UTR We also found dramatic changes in RNA structure folding and alterations in the affinity of FMRP for MMP-9 RNA, depending on the SNP variant. Finally, we observed greater sensitivity to psychosis-related locomotor hyperactivity in Mmp-9 heterozygous mice. We propose a novel mechanism that involves MMP-9-dependent changes in dendritic spine morphology and the pathophysiology of schizophrenia, providing the first mechanistic insights into the way in which the single base change in the MMP-9 gene (rs20544) influences gene function and results in phenotypic changes observed in schizophrenia patients.
Keywords: Fragile X mental retardation protein; dendritic spine morphology; matrix metalloproteinase 9; phenotype‐based genetic association study; single‐nucleotide polymorphism.
© 2017 The Authors. Published under the terms of the CC BY 4.0 license.