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Title: Investigation of candidate risk genes for neuropsychiatric disease in vitro and in vivo using ENU mutagenesis
Author: Hobbs, Eleanor
ISNI:       0000 0004 6499 5094
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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Schizophrenia is a complex mental disorder characterised by positive symptoms such as hallucinations and psychosis, negative symptoms such as avolition and anhedonia, and cognitive defects. Schizophrenia risk has a genetic component, and it is likely that this is caused by interaction between numerous genes with individually small effects. Environment also plays a role; factors associated with schizophrenia include drug use, prenatal stressors and living environment. Candidate genes linked to schizophrenia have been identified through recent GWAS of human populations with the disorder, including ANK3, TCF4 and CACNA1C. GWAS associations alone are not sufficient to identify these as definitive risk genes for the disease. In order to validate these findings, animal models (in particular the mouse) can be used to study the effect of mutations in these genes of interest. Knockouts of these genes in the mouse are lethal, so we have used the ENU mutagenesis DNA archive at MRC Harwell to screen for additional allelic variants expressing more subtle and varied behavioural phenotypes. Endophenotypes associated with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, such as anxiety, cognitive deficits and sensorimotor gating deficits, can be characterised in these mutants and, together with molecular characterisation, this can validate these genes as risk factors. While mutations in Ank3 and Tcf4 proved to be non-functional, two mutations in Cacna1c have been associated with anxiety phenotypes and differences in EEG power spectra, as well as causing a cardiac phenotype.
Supervisor: Szele, Francis ; Nolan, Patrick ; Parsons, Michael Sponsor: Medical Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Neurobehaviour ; Genetics ; Schizophrenia ; mouse ; animal models ; schizophrenia ; neurobehavioral genetics ; genetics ; bipolar disorder