Schmechtig A, Vassos E, Kumari V, Hutton SB, Collier DA, Morris RG, Williams SC, Ettinger U
Genes Brain Behav. 2010 Aug;9(6):621-7
Neuregulin 1 (NRG1) has been identified as one of the leading candidate genes for schizophrenia. However, its functional mechanisms and its effects on neurocognition remain unclear. In this study, we used two well-established oculomotor endophenotypes, the antisaccade (AS) and smooth pursuit eye movement (SPEM) tasks, to investigate the functional mechanisms of a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in NRG1 (rs3924999) at the neurocognitive level in a healthy volunteer sample. A total of 114 healthy Caucasian volunteers completed genotyping for NRG1 rs3924999 and infrared oculographic assessment of AS and SPEM (at target velocities of 12 degrees , 24 degrees and 36 degrees per second). Additionally, self-report questionnaires of schizotypy, neuroticism, attention deficit hyperactivity and obsessive-compulsive traits were included. A significant effect of rs3924999 genotype, with gender as a covariate, was found for AS amplitude gain (P < 0.01), with an increasing number of A alleles being associated with increasingly hypermetric performance. No statistically significant associations were found for other AS and SPEM variables or questionnaire scores. These findings indicate that NRG1 rs3924999 affects spatial accuracy on the AS task, suggesting an influence of the gene on the neural mechanisms underlying visuospatial sensorimotor transformations, a mechanism that has been previously found to be impaired in patients with schizophrenia and their relatives.