Molecular cloning of a brain-specific, developmentally regulated neuregulin 1 (NRG1) isoform and identification of a functional promoter variant associated with schizophrenia.
Tan W., Wang Y., Gold B., Chen J., Dean M., Harrison PJ., Weinberger DR., Law AJ.
Neuregulin 1 (NRG1) is essential for the development and function of multiple organ systems, and its dysregulation has been linked to diseases such as cancer and schizophrenia. Recently, altered expression of a novel isoform (type IV) in the brain has been associated with schizophrenia-related genetic variants, especially rs6994992 (SNP8NRG243177). Here we have isolated and characterized full-length NRG1 type IV cDNAs from the adult and fetal human brain and identified novel splice variants of NRG1. Full-length type IV spans 1.8 kb and encodes a putative protein of 590 amino acids with a predicted molecular mass of approximately 66 kDa. The transcript consists of 11 exons with an Ig-like domain, an epidermal growth factor-like (EGF) domain, a beta-stalk, a transmembrane domain, and a cytoplasmic "a-tail," placing it in the beta1a NRG1 subclass. NRG1 type IV was not detected in any tissues except brain and a putative type IV NRG1 protein of 66 kDa was similarly brain-specific. Type IV transcripts are more abundantly expressed in the fetal brain, where, in addition to the full-length structure, two novel type IV variants were identified. In vitro luciferase-reporter assays demonstrate that the 5' promoter region upstream of type IV is functional, with differential activity associated with genetic variation at rs6994992, and that promoter competition may impact on type IV expression. Our data suggest that type IV is a unique brain-specific NRG1 that is differentially expressed and processed during early development, is translated, and its expression regulated by a schizophrenia risk-associated functional promoter or single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP).