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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Jan 6;101(1):348-53. Epub 2003 Dec 18.

DNA-methyltransferase 1 mRNA is selectively overexpressed in telencephalic GABAergic interneurons of schizophrenia brains.

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  • 1Psychiatric Institute, Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Illinois, 1601 West Taylor Street, Chicago, IL 60612, USA.


A down-regulation of reelin and glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) 67 mRNAs was detected in gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)ergic cortical interneurons of schizophrenia (SZ) postmortem brains (10), suggesting that the availability of GABA and reelin may be decreased in SZ cortex. In situ hybridization of the mRNA encoding for DNA-methyltransferase 1, which catalyzes the methylation of promoter CpG islands, shows that the expression of this mRNA is increased in cortical GABAergic interneurons but not in pyramidal neurons of SZ brains. Counts of reelin mRNA-positive neurons in Brodmann's area 10 of either nonpsychiatric subjects or SZ patients show that the expression of reelin mRNA is decreased in layer-I, -II, and -IV GABAergic interneurons of SZ patients. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that the increase of DNA-methyltransferase 1 expression in telencephalic GABAergic interneurons of SZ patients causes a promoter hypermethylation of reelin and GAD(67) and perhaps of other genes expressed in these interneurons. It is difficult to decide whether this dysfunction of GABAergic neurons detected in SZ is responsible for this disease or is a consequence of this disorder. Although at present we cannot differentiate between these two alternatives, it is important to consider that so far a molecular pathology of cortical GABAergic neurons appears to be the most consistent finding associated with SZ morbidity.

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