Glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK-3β) is an enzyme implicated in neurodevelopmental processes with a broad range of substrates mediating several canonical signaling pathways in the brain. The authors investigated the association of variation in the GSK-3β gene with a series of progressively more complex phenotypes of relevance to schizophrenia, a neurodevelopmental disorder with strong genetic risk.
Based on computer predictions, the authors investigated in humans the association of GSK-3β functional variation with 1) GSK-3β mRNA expression from postmortem prefrontal cortex, 2) GSK-3β and β-catenin protein expression from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), 3) prefrontal imaging phenotypes, and 4) diagnosis of schizophrenia.
Consistent with predictions, the TT genotype of a single-nucleotide polymorphism in GSK-3β (rs12630592) was associated with reduced GSK-3β mRNA from postmortem prefrontal cortex. Furthermore, this genotype was associated with GSK-3β protein expression and kinase activity, as well as with downstream effects on β-catenin expression in PBMCs. Finally, the TT genotype was associated with attenuated functional MRI prefrontal activity, reduced prefrontal cortical thickness, and diagnosis of schizophrenia.
These results suggest that GSK-3β variation is implicated in multiple phenotypes relevant to schizophrenia.