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Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2012 Oct 1;39(1):149-55. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2012.06.004. Epub 2012 Jun 9.

Genetic and functional analyses of early growth response (EGR) family genes in schizophrenia.

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Department of Psychiatry, Yuli Mental Health Research Center, Yuli Veterans Hospital, Hualien, Taiwan.



Early growth response genes (EGR1, 2, 3, and 4) encode a family of nuclear proteins that function as transcriptional regulators. They are involved in the regulation of synaptic plasticity, learning, and memory, and are implicated in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia.


We conducted a genetic association analysis of 14 SNPs selected from the EGR1, 2, 3, and 4 genes of 564 patients with schizophrenia and 564 control subjects. We also conducted Western blot analysis and promoter activity assay to characterize the EGR genes associated with schizophrenia


We did not detect a true genetic association of these 14 SNPs with schizophrenia in this sample. However, we observed a nominal over-representation of C/C genotype of rs9990 of EGR2 in female schizophrenia as compared to female control subjects (p=0.012, uncorrected for multiple testing). Further study showed that the average mRNA level of the EGR2 gene in the lymphoblastoid cell lines of female schizophrenia patients was significantly higher than that in female control subjects (p=0.002). We also detected a nominal association of 4 SNPs (rs6747506, rs6718289, rs2229294, and rs3813226) of the EGR4 gene that form strong linkage disequilibrium with schizophrenia in males. Reporter gene assay showed that the haplotype T-A derived from rs6747506 and rs6718289 at the promoter region had significantly reduced promoter activity compared with the haplotype A-G.


Our data suggest a tendency of gender-specific association of EGR2 and EGR4 in schizophrenia, with an elevated expression of EGR2 in lympoblastoid cell lines of female schizophrenia patients and a reduced EGR4 gene expression in male schizophrenia patients.

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