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Heterozygosity for the mood disorder-associated variant Gln460Arg alters P2X7 receptor function and sleep quality.

J Neurosci. 2017 Oct 27. pii: 3487-16. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3487-16.2017. [Epub ahead of print]

Authors/Editors: Metzger MW, Walser SM, Dedic N, Aprile-Garcia F, Jakubcakova V, Adamczyk M, Webb KJ, Uhr M, Refojo D, Schmidt MV, Friess E, Steiger A, Kimura M, Chen A, Holsboer F, Arzt E, Wurst W, Deussing JM.
Publication Date: 2017



A single-nucleotide polymorphism substitution from glutamine (Gln, Q) to arginine (Arg, R) at codon 460 of the purinergic P2X7 receptor (P2X7R) has repeatedly been associated with mood disorders. The P2X7R-Gln460Arg variant per se is not compromised in its function. However, heterologous expression of P2X7R-Gln460Arg together with wild-type P2X7R has recently been demonstrated to impair receptor function. Here we show that this also applies to humanized mice co-expressing both human P2X7R variants. Primary hippocampal cells derived from heterozygous mice showed an attenuated calcium uptake upon agonist stimulation. While humanized mice were unaffected in their behavioral repertoire under basal housing conditions, mice that harbor both P2X7R variants showed alterations in their sleep quality resembling signs of a prodromal disease stage. Also healthy heterozygous human subjects showed mild changes in sleep parameters. These results indicate that heterozygosity for the wild-type P2X7R and its mood disorder associated variant P2X7R-Gln460Arg represents a genetic risk factor, which is potentially able to convey susceptibility to mood disorders.

SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: Depression and bipolar disorder are the most common mood disorders. The P2X7 receptor (P2X7R) regulates many cellular functions. Its polymorphic variant Gln460Arg has repeatedly been associated with mood disorders. Genetically engineered mice, with human P2X7R, revealed that heterozygous mice (i.e. they co-express the disease-associated Gln460Arg variant together with its normal version) have impaired receptor function and showed sleep disturbances. Human participants with the heterozygote genotype also had subtle alterations in their sleep profile. Our findings suggest that altered P2X7R function in heterozygote individuals disturbs sleep and might increase the risk for developing mood disorders.

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