Food and Behaviour Research

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Functional characterization of FABP3, 5 and 7 gene variants identified in schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorder and mouse behavioral studies

Shimamoto C, Ohnishi T, Maekawa M, Watanabe A, Ohba H, Arai R, Iwayama Y , Hisano Y, Toyota T, Toyoshima M, Suzuki K, Nakamura K, Mori N, Shirayama Y, Owada Y, Kobayashi T, Yoshikawa T (2014) Human Molecular Genetics doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddu369   Oxford University Press.

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Disturbances of lipid metabolism have been implicated in psychiatric illnesses. We previously reported an association between the gene for fatty acid binding protein 7 (FABP7) and schizophrenia. Furthermore, we identified and reported several rare nonsynonymous polymorphisms of the brain-expressed genes FABP3, FABP5 and FABP7 from schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), diseases known to part share genetic architecture. Here, we conducted further studies to better understand the contribution these genes make to the pathogenesis of schizophrenia and ASD. In postmortem brains, we detected altered mRNA expression levels of FABP5 in schizophrenia, and of FABP7 in ASD, and altered FABP5 in peripheral lymphocytes. Using a patient cohort, comprehensive mutation screening identified six missense and two frameshift variants from the three FABP genes. The two frameshift proteins, FABP3 E132fs and FABP7 N89fs, formed cellular aggregates and were unstable when expressed in cultured cells. The four missense mutants with predicted possible damaging outcomes showed no changes in intracellular localization. Examining ligand binding properties, FABP7 S86G and FABP7 V126 L lost their preference for docosahexaenoic acid to linoleic acid. Finally, mice deficient in Fabp3, Fabp5 and Fabp7 were evaluated in a systematic behavioral test battery. The Fabp3 knockout (KO) mice showed decreased social memory and novelty seeking, and Fabp7 KO mice displayed hyperactive and anxiety-related phenotypes, while Fabp5 KO mice showed no apparent phenotypes. In conclusion, disturbances in brain-expressed FABPs could represent an underlying disease mechanism in a proportion of schizophrenia and ASD sufferers.