ZNF804A (Zinc Finger Protein 804A) has been identified as a candidate gene for schizophrenia (SZ), autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and bipolar disorder (BD) in replicated genome wide association studies (GWAS) and by copy number variation (CNV) analysis. Although its function has not been well-characterized, ZNF804A contains a C2H2-type zinc-finger domain, suggesting that it has DNA binding properties, and consequently, a role in regulating gene expression. To further explore the role of ZNF804A on gene expression and its downstream targets, we used a gene knockdown (KD) approach to reduce its expression in neural progenitor cells (NPCs) derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). KD was accomplished by RNA interference (RNAi) using lentiviral particles containing shRNAs that target ZNF804A mRNA. Stable transduced NPC lines were generated after puromycin selection. A control cell line expressing a random (scrambled) shRNA was also generated. Neuronal differentiation was induced, RNA was harvested after 14 days and transcriptome analysis was carried out using RNA-seq. 1815 genes were found to be differentially expressed at a nominally significant level (p<0.05); 809 decreased in expression in the KD samples, while 1106 increased. Of these, 370 achieved genome wide significance (FDR<0.05); 125 were lower in the KD samples, 245 were higher. Pathway analysis showed that genes involved in interferon-signaling were enriched among those that were down-regulated in the KD samples. Correspondingly, ZNF804A KD was found to affect in-terferon- alpha 2 (IFNA2)-mediated gene expression. The findings suggest that ZNF804A may affect a differentiating neuron's response to inflammatory cytokines, which is consistent with models of SZ and ASD that support a role for infectious disease, and/or autoimmunity in a subgroup of patients.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)