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Mol Psychiatry. 2012 Jul;17(8):827-40. doi: 10.1038/mp.2011.78. Epub 2011 Jul 5.

Imprinted DLK1-DIO3 region of 14q32 defines a schizophrenia-associated miRNA signature in peripheral blood mononuclear cells.

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School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy, The University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, Australia.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate gene expression at the post-transcriptional level and are important for coordinating nervous system development and neuronal function in the mature brain. We have recently identified schizophrenia-associated alteration of cortical miRNA biogenesis and expression in post-mortem brain tissue with implications for the dysregulation of schizophrenia candidate genes. Although these changes were observed in the central nervous system, it is plausible that schizophrenia-associated miRNA expression signatures may also be detected in non-neural tissue. To explore this possibility, we investigated the miRNA expression profile of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from 112 patients with schizophrenia and 76 non-psychiatric controls. miRNA expression analysis of total RNA conducted using commercial miRNA arrays revealed that 33 miRNAs were significantly downregulated after correction for multiple testing with a false discovery rate (FDR) of 0%, which increased to 83 when we considered miRNA with an FDR<5%. Seven miRNAs altered in microarray analysis of schizophrenia were also confirmed to be downregulated by quantitative real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. A large subgroup consisting of 17 downregulated miRNAs is transcribed from a single imprinted locus at the maternally expressed DLK1-DIO3 region on chromosome 14q32. This pattern of differentially expressed miRNA in PBMCs may be indicative of significant underlying genetic or epigenetic alteration associated with schizophrenia.

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