GPN PhD student Ashley Comer and Biology Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Tushare Jinadasa in Alberto Cruz-Martín’s Lab recently co-authored an article published in PLOS Biology, “Increased expression of schizophrenia-associated gene C4 leads to hypoconnectivity of prefrontal cortex and reduced social interaction.” The article was featured on the January 2020 cover.

Schizophrenia is a debilitating psychiatric disorder characterized by hallucinations, emotional withdrawal and a decline in cognitive function. Comer, Jinadasa and colleagues have found that a highly-associated schizophrenia gene, complement component 4 (C4), plays a direct role in the pathogenesis of disease-relevant phenotypes. Increased expression of the immune gene C4 leads to reduced connectivity of neurons in the medial prefrontal cortex, a brain region with notable gray matter loss in schizophrenia. This disruption in the development of the frontal circuits caused deficits in the social behavior of young mice that persisted into adulthood. Taken together, this finding is important because it reveals a critical window in the development of the prefrontal cortex in which C4 could be therapeutically targeted to alter phenotypes in schizophrenia.

Read the article here.