Sarada Lekshmi K R, PhD Student
Dissecting the role of Epigenetics in the genetics of schizophrenia
Seven percent of Indians, or around seven crore people suffer from mental disorders in one or the other form. Schizophrenia is a biopsychosocial disorder affecting about 1% of world population. The non Mendelian pattern of familial transmission and the lack of disease specific neuropathological features or biomarkers categorise this disease under complex disorders. Attempts to find risk factors for the disorder using epidemiological methods have shown that schizophrenia is highly heritable and path analyses predict that the disorder is caused by several genes in combination with non genetic factors. Several genetic association studies have been conducted worldwide to identify the genetic susceptibility to the disease. However no single gene or genetic variant has been established as bonafide schizophrenia susceptibility gene. Recent thinking suggests that the origin of this disease may not lie strictly in DNA sequence variation rather; these may be coupled with epigenetic dysfunctions as the key etiopathogenic factors. Epigenetic modifications like DNA methylation, histone modifications lead to gene silencing or hyper activation, which collectively contribute to the symptoms observed in patients. Phenotypic diversity based on presentation of symptoms has been observed among schizophrenic patients from different ethno-geographic regions. We aim at dissecting the role of epigenetic modifications, particularly DNA methylation in the etiopathology of schizophrenia in South Indian population. We also try to look into variations at DNA level that influences the epigenetic modifications.