Bipolar disorder (BD), characterized by recurrent mood swings between depression and mania, is a highly heritable and devastating mental illness with poorly defined pathophysiology. Recent genome-wide molecular genetic studies have identified several protein-coding genes and microRNAs (miRNAs) significantly associated with BD. Notably, some of the proteins expressed from BD-associated genes function in neuronal synapses, suggesting that abnormalities in synaptic function could be one of the key pathogenic mechanisms of BD. In contrast, however, the role of BD-associated miRNAs in disease pathogenesis remains largely unknown, mainly because of a lack of understanding about their target mRNAs and pathways in neurons. To address this problem, in this study, we focused on a recently identified BD-associated but uncharacterized miRNA, miR-1908-5p. We identified and validated its novel target genes including DLGAP4, GRIN1, STX1A, CLSTN1 and GRM4, which all function in neuronal glutamatergic synapses. Moreover, bioinformatic analyses of human brain expression profiles revealed that the expression levels of miR-1908-5p and its synaptic target genes show an inverse-correlation in many brain regions. In our preliminary experiments, the expression of miR-1908-5p was increased after chronic treatment with valproate but not lithium in control human neural progenitor cells. In contrast, it was decreased by valproate in neural progenitor cells derived from dermal fibroblasts of a BD subject. Together, our results provide new insights into the potential role of miR-1908-5p in the pathogenesis of BD and also propose a hypothesis that neuronal synapses could be a key converging pathway of some BD-associated protein-coding genes and miRNAs.
- Bipolar disorder
- Glutamatergic synapse
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience