Pro-apoptotic Par-4 and dopamine D2 receptor in temporal cortex in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression


Leisa A. Glantz, John H. Gilmore, David H. Overstreet, Kayvon Salimi, Jeffrey A. Lieberman, L. Fredrik Jarskog


Although the etiology of schizophrenia remains unknown, diverse neuropathological evidence suggests a disorder of synaptic connectivity. Apoptosis is a form of cell death that helps determine synaptic circuitry during neurodevelopment and altered regulation of apoptosis has been implicated in schizophrenia. Prostate apoptosis response-4 (Par-4) is an upstream regulator of apoptosis preferentially localized to synapses. Brain Par-4 levels are upregulated in response to pro-apoptotic stimuli in rodent models and in patients with classic neurodegenerative diseases. Recently, Par-4 was also found to form a complex with the dopamine D2 receptor (D2DR) in competition with the calcium-binding protein calmodulin, implicating Par-4 as an important regulatory component in normal dopamine signaling. Interestingly, mutant mice with disrupted Par-4/D2DR interaction demonstrated depressive-like behaviors, suggesting a potential role for Par-4 in both depression and schizophrenia. In this study, Par-4, D2DR and calmodulin protein levels were measured using semiquantitative Western blotting in postmortem temporal cortex in subjects with schizophrenia, major depression and bipolar disorder. Compared to normal controls, mean Par-4 levels appeared slightly lower in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. However, in major depression, Par-4 was decreased by 67% compared to normal controls. No differences were found between any groups for calmodulin or for the D2DR 48kDa band. The D2DR 98kDa band was lower by 50% in the schizophrenia compared to control groups. Changes in the Par-4/D2DR signaling pathway represent a novel mechanism that may link apoptotic and dopamine signaling pathways in major depression and schizophrenia.