Dendritic spine pathology is a key feature of several neuropsychiatric disorders. The Rac1 guanine nucleotide exchange factor kalirin-7 is critical for spine morphogenesis on cortical pyramidal neurons. Here we identify a rare coding variant in the KALRN gene region that encodes the catalytic domain, in a schizophrenia patient and his sibling with major depressive disorder. The D1338N substitution significantly diminished the protein's ability to catalyse the activation of Rac1. Contrary to wild-type kalirin-7, kalirin-7-D1338N failed to increase spine size and density. Both subjects carrying the polymorphism displayed reduced cortical volume in the superior temporal sulcus (STS), a region implicated in schizophrenia. Consistent with this, mice with reduced kalirin expression showed reduced neuropil volume in the rodent homologue of the STS. These data suggest that single amino acid changes in proteins involved in dendritic spine function can have significant effects on the structure and function of the cerebral cortex.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)