Further evidence for the impact of a genome-wide-supported psychosis risk variant in ZNF804A on the Theory of Mind Network
Authors: Mohnke S, Erk S, Schnell K, Schütz C, Romanczuk-Seiferth N, Grimm O, Haddad L, Pöhland L, Garbusow M, Schmitgen MM, Kirsch P, Esslinger C, Rietschel M, Witt SH, Nöthen MM, Cichon S, Mattheisen M, Mühleisen T, Jensen J, Schott BH, Maier W, Heinz A, Meyer-Lindenberg A, Walter H
CellNetworks People: Meyer-Lindenberg Andreas, Schnell Knut
Journal: Neuropsychopharmacology. 2014 Apr;39(5):1196-205. doi: 10.1038/npp.2013.321. Epub 2013 Nov 19

The single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs1344706 in ZNF804A is one of the best-supported risk variants for psychosis. We hypothesized that this SNP contributes to the development of schizophrenia by affecting the ability to understand other people's mental states. This skill, commonly referred to as Theory of Mind (ToM), has consistently been found to be impaired in schizophrenia. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we previously showed that in healthy individuals rs1344706 impacted on activity and connectivity of key areas of the ToM network, including the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, temporo-parietal junction, and the posterior cingulate cortex, which show aberrant activity in schizophrenia patients, too. We aimed to replicate these results in an independent sample of 188 healthy German volunteers. In order to assess the reliability of brain activity elicited by the ToM task, 25 participants performed the task twice with an interval of 14 days showing excellent accordance in recruitment of key ToM areas. Confirming our previous results, we observed decreasing activity of the left temporo-parietal junction, dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, and the posterior cingulate cortex with increasing number of risk alleles during ToM. Complementing our replication sample with the discovery sample, analyzed in a previous report (total N=297), further revealed negative genotype effects in the left dorsomedial prefrontal cortex as well as in the temporal and parietal regions. In addition, as shown previously, rs1344706 risk allele dose positively predicted increased frontal-temporo-parietal connectivity. These findings confirm the effects of the psychosis risk variant in ZNF804A on the dysfunction of the ToM network.