Originally identified at the breakpoint of a (1;11)(q42.1; q14.3) chromosomal translocation in a Scottish family with a wide range of mental disorders, the DISC1 gene has been a focus of intensive investigations as an entry point to study the molecular mechanisms of diverse mental dysfunctions. Perturbations of the DISC1 functions lead to behavioral changes in animal models, which are relevant to psychiatric conditions in patients. In this work, we have expressed the human DISC1 gene in the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) and performed a genetic screening for the mutations of psychiatric risk genes that cause modifications of DISC1 synaptic phenotypes at the neuromuscular junction. We found that DISC1 interacts with dnrx1, the Drosophila homolog of the human Neurexin (NRXN1) gene, in the development of glutamatergic synapses. While overexpression of DISC1 suppressed the total bouton area on the target muscles and stimulated active zone density in wild-type background, a partial reduction of the dnrx1 activity negated the DISC1-mediated synaptic alterations. Likewise, overexpression of DISC1 stimulated the expression of a glutamate receptor component, DGLURIIA, in wild-type background but not in the dnrx1 heterozygous background. In addition, DISC1 caused mislocalization of Discs large, the Drosophila PSD-95 homolog, in the dnrx1 heterozygous background. Analyses with a series of domain deletions have revealed the importance of axonal localization of the DISC1 protein for efficient suppression of DNRX1 in synaptic boutons. These results thus suggest an intriguing converging mechanism controlled by the interaction of DISC1 and Neurexin in the developing glutamatergic synapses.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health