MIR137 schizophrenia-associated locus controls synaptic function by regulating synaptogenesis, synapse maturation and synaptic transmission

Enqi He, Miguel A.Gonzalez Lozano, Sven Stringer, Kyoko Watanabe, Kensuke Sakamoto, Frank den Oudsten, Frank Koopmans, Stephanie N. Giamberardino, Anke Hammerschlag, L. Niels Cornelisse, Ka Wan Li, Jan van Weering, Danielle Posthuma, August B. Smit, Patrick F. Sullivan, Matthijs Verhage

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47 Citations (Scopus)


The MIR137 locus is a replicated genetic risk factor for schizophrenia. The risk-associated allele is reported to increase miR- 137 expression and miR-137 overexpression alters synaptic transmission in mouse hippocampus. We investigated the cellular mechanisms underlying these observed effects in mouse hippocampal neurons in culture. First, we correlated the risk allele to expression of the genes in the MIR137 locus in human postmortem brain. Some evidence for increased MIR137HG expression was observed, especially in hippocampus of the disease-associated genotype. Second, in mouse hippocampal neurons, we confirmed previously observed changes in synaptic transmission upon miR-137 overexpression. Evoked synaptic transmission and spontaneous release were 50% reduced. We identified defects in release probability as the underlying cause. In contrast to previous observations, no evidence was obtained for selective synaptic vesicle docking defects. Instead, ultrastructural morphometry revealed multiple effects of miR-137 overexpression on docking, active zone length and total vesicle number. Moreover, proteomic analyses of neuronal protein showed that expression of Syt1 and Cplx1, previously reported as downregulated upon miR-137 overexpression, was unaltered. Immunocytochemistry of synapses overexpressing miR-137 showed normal Synaptotagmin1 and Complexin1 protein levels. Instead, our proteomic analyses revealed altered expression of genes involved in synaptogenesis. Concomitantly, synaptogenesis assays revealed 31% reduction in synapse formation. Taken together, these data show that miR-137 regulates synaptic function by regulating synaptogenesis, synaptic ultrastructure and synapse function. These effects are plausible contributors to the increased schizophrenia risk associated with miR-137 overexpression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1879-1891
Number of pages13
JournalHuman Molecular Genetics
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018

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