The Schizophrenia Susceptibility Gene dysbindin Controls Synaptic Homeostasis

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Science  20 Nov 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5956, pp. 1127-1130
DOI: 10.1126/science.1179685

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The molecular mechanisms that achieve homeostatic stabilization of neural function remain largely unknown. To better understand how neural function is stabilized during development and throughout life, we used an electrophysiology-based forward genetic screen and assessed the function of more than 250 neuronally expressed genes for a role in the homeostatic modulation of synaptic transmission in Drosophila. This screen ruled out the involvement of numerous synaptic proteins and identified a critical function for dysbindin, a gene linked to schizophrenia in humans. We found that dysbindin is required presynaptically for the retrograde, homeostatic modulation of neurotransmission, and functions in a dose-dependent manner downstream or independently of calcium influx. Thus, dysbindin is essential for adaptive neural plasticity and may link altered homeostatic signaling with a complex neurological disease.

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