Differential regulation of alpha7 nicotinic receptor gene (CHRNA7) expression in schizophrenic smokers.

Journal of molecular neuroscience : MN

PubMedID: 19680823

Mexal S, Berger R, Logel J, Ross RG, Freedman R, Leonard S. Differential regulation of alpha7 nicotinic receptor gene (CHRNA7) expression in schizophrenic smokers. J Mol Neurosci. 2010;40(1-2):185-95.
The alpha7 neuronal nicotinic receptor gene (CHRNA7) has been implicated in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia by genetic and pharmacological studies. Expression of the alpha7* receptor, as measured by [(125)I]alpha-bungarotoxin autoradiography, is decreased in postmortem brain of schizophrenic subjects compared to non-mentally ill controls. Most schizophrenic patients are heavy smokers, with high levels of serum cotinine. Smoking changes the expression of multiple genes and differentially regulates gene expression in schizophrenic hippocampus. We examined the effects of smoking on CHRNA7 expression in the same tissue and find that smoking differentially regulates expression of both mRNA and protein for this gene. CHRNA7 mRNA and protein levels are significantly lower in schizophrenic nonsmokers compared to control nonsmokers and are brought to control levels in schizophrenic smokers. Sufficient protein but low surface expression of the alpha7* receptor, seen in the autoradiographic studies, suggests aberrant assembly or trafficking of the receptor.