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      Functional Genomics of Serotonin Receptor 2A ( HTR2A): Interaction of Polymorphism, Methylation, Expression and Disease Association

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          Serotonergic neurotransmission plays a key role in the pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric illnesses. The functional significance of a promoter polymorphism, −1438G/A (rs6311), in one of the major genes of this system ( serotonin receptor 2A, HTR2A) remains poorly understood in the context of epigenetic factors, transcription factors and endocrine influences. We used functional and structural equation modeling (SEM) approaches to assess the contributions of the polymorphism (rs6311), DNA methylation and clinical variables to HTR2A expression in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) subjects from a population-based study. HTR2A was up-regulated in CFS through allele-specific expression modulated by transcription factors at critical sites in its promoter: an E47 binding site at position −1,438, (created by the A-allele of rs6311 polymorphism), a glucocorticoid receptor (GR) binding site encompassing a CpG at position −1,420, and Sp1 binding at CpG methylation site −1,224. Methylation at −1,420 was strongly correlated with methylation at −1,439, a CpG site that is dependent upon the G-allele of rs6311 at position −1,438. SEM revealed a strong negative interaction between E47 and GR binding (in conjunction with cortisol level) on HTR2A expression. This study suggests that the promoter polymorphism (rs6311) can affect both transcription factor binding and promoter methylation, and this along with an individual’s stress response can impact the rate of HTR2A transcription in a genotype and methylation-dependent manner. This study can serve as an example for deciphering the molecular determinants of transcriptional regulation of major genes of medical importance by integrating functional genomics and SEM approaches. Confirmation in an independent study population is required.

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          The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s12017-010-8138-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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          Most cited references 23

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          The potential role of hypocortisolism in the pathophysiology of stress-related bodily disorders

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            Is Open Access

            Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – A clinically empirical approach to its definition and study

            Background The lack of standardized criteria for defining chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) has constrained research. The objective of this study was to apply the 1994 CFS criteria by standardized reproducible criteria. Methods This population-based case control study enrolled 227 adults identified from the population of Wichita with: (1) CFS (n = 58); (2) non-fatigued controls matched to CFS on sex, race, age and body mass index (n = 55); (3) persons with medically unexplained fatigue not CFS, which we term ISF (n = 59); (4) CFS accompanied by melancholic depression (n = 27); and (5) ISF plus melancholic depression (n = 28). Participants were admitted to a hospital for two days and underwent medical history and physical examination, the Diagnostic Interview Schedule, and laboratory testing to identify medical and psychiatric conditions exclusionary for CFS. Illness classification at the time of the clinical study utilized two algorithms: (1) the same criteria as in the surveillance study; (2) a standardized clinically empirical algorithm based on quantitative assessment of the major domains of CFS (impairment, fatigue, and accompanying symptoms). Results One hundred and sixty-four participants had no exclusionary conditions at the time of this study. Clinically empirical classification identified 43 subjects as CFS, 57 as ISF, and 64 as not ill. There was minimal association between the empirical classification and classification by the surveillance criteria. Subjects empirically classified as CFS had significantly worse impairment (evaluated by the SF-36), more severe fatigue (documented by the multidimensional fatigue inventory), more frequent and severe accompanying symptoms than those with ISF, who in turn had significantly worse scores than the not ill; this was not true for classification by the surveillance algorithm. Conclusion The empirical definition includes all aspects of CFS specified in the 1994 case definition and identifies persons with CFS in a precise manner that can be readily reproduced by both investigators and clinicians.
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              The relationship of 5HTT (SLC6A4) methylation and genotype on mRNA expression and liability to major depression and alcohol dependence in subjects from the Iowa Adoption Studies.

              Serotonin Transporter (5HTT or SLC6A4) mRNA transcription is regulated by both genetic and epigenetic mechanisms. Unfortunately, despite intense scrutiny, the exact identity and contribution of each of these regulatory mechanisms, and their relationship to behavioral illness remain unknown. This lack of knowledge is critical because alterations in SLC6A4 function are posited to be central to a wide variety of CNS disorders. In order to address this shortcoming, we quantified 5HTTLPR genotype, SLC6A4 mRNA production and CpG methylation using biomaterial from 192 lymphoblast cell lines derived from subjects who participated in the latest wave of the Iowa Adoption Studies. We then analyzed the resulting data with respect to clinical characteristics. We confirmed prior findings that the short (s) 5HTTLPR allele is associated with lower amounts of mRNA transcription, but there was no significant effect of the "Long G" allele on mRNA transcription. We also found that CpG methylation was higher (P < 0.0008) and mRNA production (P < 0.0001) was lower in females as compared to males. Those subjects with a lifetime history of Alcohol Dependence had higher levels of SLC6A4 mRNA. There was a trend for an association of increased overall methylation with lifetime history of major depression. Finally, we confirm our prior findings that the exact levels of 5HTT mRNA expression are dependent on how it is measured. We conclude that both genetic variation and epigenetic modifications contribute to the regulation of SLC6A4 function and that more in-depth studies of the molecular mechanisms controlling gene activity and the relationship of these mechanisms to behavioral illness are indicated. Copyright 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

                Author and article information

                +1-404-6392931 , +1-404-6393540 , mor4@cdc.gov
                Neuromolecular Med
                Neuromolecular Medicine
                Humana Press Inc (New York )
                13 October 2010
                13 October 2010
                March 2011
                : 13
                : 1
                : 66-76
                Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30333 USA
                © The Author(s) 2010
                Original Paper
                Custom metadata
                © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011


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