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Addict Biol. 2014 Sep;19(5):955-64. doi: 10.1111/adb.12072. Epub 2013 Jul 16.

Deep resequencing of 17 glutamate system genes identifies rare variants in DISC1 and GRIN2B affecting risk of opioid dependence.

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  • 1Department of Genetics, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA; VA CT Healthcare Center, West Haven, CT, USA.


The N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) glutamate receptors play important roles in the pathophysiology of substance dependence (SD), but no strong genetic evidence has associated common variants in NMDAR-related genes to SD. We hypothesized that rare variants (RVs) with minor allele frequency <1% in the NMDAR-related genes might exert large effects on SD risk. We sequenced 34 544 bp of coding and flanking intronic regions of 17 genes involved in the NMDA system in 760 subjects, all with co-occurring alcohol dependence, cocaine dependence and opioid dependence (OD), and 760 healthy control subjects. One hundred percent of the target regions were sequenced at >1000× coverage. We identified 454 variants, including 380 RVs. Based on case-control allele count differences, we genotyped 11 exonic RVs in 6751 additional subjects, and the 1520 subjects from the sequencing stage for validation. All alleles of the 11 RVs called in the sequencing stage were confirmed. We found a statistically significant association of the 11 RVs with OD in African Americans (P = 0.00080). Results from gene-based association tests showed that the association signal derived mostly from DISC1 (P = 0.0010) and GRIN2B (P = 0.00085). DISC1 is a well-validated schizophrenia risk gene. This is the first demonstration that RVs affect the risk of OD and the first demonstration of biological convergence of schizophrenia and OD risk-via DISC1.


Addiction; DISC1; NMDA; opioid dependence; rare variants

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