Identification of candidate genetic variants and altered protein expression in neural stem and mature neural cells support altered microtubule function to be an essential component in bipolar disorder

Transl Psychiatry. 2020 Nov 9;10(1):390. doi: 10.1038/s41398-020-01056-1.


Identification of causative genetic variants leading to the development of bipolar disorder (BD) could result in genetic tests that would facilitate diagnosis. A better understanding of affected genes and pathways is also necessary for targeting of genes that may improve treatment strategies. To date several susceptibility genes have been reported from genome-wide association studies (GWAS), but little is known about specific variants that affect disease development. Here, we performed quantitative proteomics and whole-genome sequencing (WGS). Quantitative proteomics revealed NLRP2 as the most significantly up-regulated protein in neural stem cells and mature neural cells obtained from BD-patient cell samples. These results are in concordance with our previously published transcriptome analysis. Furthermore, the levels of FEZ2 and CADM2 proteins were also significantly differentially expressed in BD compared to control derived cells. The levels of FEZ2 were significantly downregulated in neural stem cells (NSC) while CADM2 was significantly up-regulated in mature neuronal cell culture. Promising novel candidate mutations were identified in the ANK3, NEK3, NEK7, TUBB, ANKRD1, and BRD2 genes. A literature search of candidate variants and deregulated proteins revealed that there are several connections to microtubule function for the molecules putatively involved. Microtubule function in neurons is critical for axon structure and axonal transport. A functional dynamic microtubule is also needed for an advocate response to cellular and environmental stress. If microtubule dynamics is compromised by mutations, it could be followed by deregulated expression forming a possible explanation for the inherited vulnerability to stressful life events that have been proposed to trigger mood episodes in BD patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bipolar Disorder* / genetics
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Genome-Wide Association Study*
  • Humans
  • Microtubules
  • NIMA-Related Kinases
  • Neurons
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Proteomics


  • NEK3 protein, human
  • NIMA-Related Kinases