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Mol Psychiatry. 2006 Oct;11(10):914-28. Epub 2006 Jul 18.

Tryptophan hydroxylase-2 gene polymorphisms in rhesus monkeys: association with hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function and in vitro gene expression.

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Harvard Medical School, New England Primate Research Center, Division of Neurochemistry, Southborough, MA 01772-9102, USA.


Tryptophan hydroxylase-2 (TPH2) is a newly identified second form of TPH responsible for serotonin synthesis in the brain and has been increasingly implicated as a contributor to the etiology of various psychiatric disorders. In this study, we have identified the constellation of polymorphisms in rhesus monkey TPH2 and investigated genotype/phenotype association as well as gene expression effects of specific polymorphisms. Genomic DNA was obtained from 247 rhesus monkeys, among which 24 had been previously examined for plasma cortisol level, dexamethasone suppression, and combined dexmethasone/ACTH challenge. Polymorphisms in all exons, splicing junctions and approximately 2 kb of the 5'-flanking region (5'-FR) of TPH2 were identified by sequencing. We identified 17 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) including two that are predictive of amino-acid change (25Pro>His and 75Gly>Ser, respectively), two mononucleotide repeats, one dinucleotide repeat, and one 159-bp insertion polymorphism. The 3'-UTR polymorphisms were significantly associated with hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity, especially 2051A>C, which was strikingly correlated with plasma cortisol level in the morning only (F=10.203, P=0.001). Luciferase reporter gene assays showed that the 3'-UTR polymorphisms and haplotypes had a profound effect on in vitro gene expression. Accordingly, these investigations revealed that polymorphisms in 3'-UTR of rhesus monkey TPH2 modulate HPA axis function, presumably by affecting levels of TPH2 expression.

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