Evaluation of conserved and ultra-conserved non-genic sequences in chromosome 15q15-linked periodic catatonia

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Conserved and ultra-conserved non-genic sequence elements (CNGs, UCEs) between human and other mammalian genomes seem to constitute a heterogeneous group of functional sequences which likely have important biological function. To determine whether variation in CNGs and UCEs contributes to risk for the schizophrenic subphenotype of periodic catatonia (according to K. Leonhard; OMIM 605419), we evaluated non-coding elements at a critical 7.35 Mb interval on chromosome 15q15 in 8 unrelated cases with periodic catatonia (derived from pedigrees compatible with linkage to chromosome 15q15) and 8 controls, followed by association studies in a cohort of 510 cases and controls. Among 65 CNGs (≥100 bp, 100% identity; human-mouse comparison), 7 CNGs matched criteria for UCE (≥200 bp, 100% identity). A hot spot of 62/65 CNGs (95%) appeared at the MEIS2 locus, which implicates functional importance of associated (ultra-)conserved elements to this early developmental gene, which is present in the human fetal neocortex and associated with metabolic side effects to antipsychotic drugs. Further CNGs were identified at the PLCB2 and DLL4 locus or located intergenic between TYRO3 and MAPKBP1. Automated sequencing revealed genetic variation in 12.3% of CNGs, but frequencies were low (MAF: 0.06–0.4) in cases. Three variants located inside CNGs/UCEs were found in cases only. In a case–control association study we could not confirm a significant association of these three CNG-variants with periodic catatonia. Our results suggest genetic variation in (ultra-)conserved non-genic sequence elements which might alter functional properties. The identified variants are genetically not associated with the phenotype of periodic catatonia. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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