Open Access Research article

Investigation of G72 (DAOA) expression in the human brain

Isabel Benzel1, James NC Kew1, Ramya Viknaraja3, Fiona Kelly4, Jacqueline de Belleroche5, Steven Hirsch5, Thirza H Sanderson2 and Peter R Maycox1*

Author Affiliations

1 Psychiatry, GlaxoSmithKline, New Frontiers Science Park, Harlow, Essex, CM19 5AW, UK

2 Biopharm Discovery Technology Group, GlaxoSmithKline, Stevenage, Hertfordshire, UK

3 Bioinformatics, GlaxoSmithKline, Harlow, Essex, UK

4 Core Discovery Technology Group, GlaxoSmithKline, New Frontiers Science Park, Harlow, Essex, CM19 5AW, UK

5 Division of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Hospital, London, UK

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BMC Psychiatry 2008, 8:94  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-8-94

Published: 11 December 2008



Polymorphisms at the G72/G30 locus on chromosome 13q have been associated with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder in more than ten independent studies. Even though the genetic findings are very robust, the physiological role of the predicted G72 protein has thus far not been resolved. Initial reports suggested G72 as an activator of D-amino acid oxidase (DAO), supporting the glutamate dysfunction hypothesis of schizophrenia. However, these findings have subsequently not been reproduced and reports of endogenous human G72 mRNA and protein expression are extremely limited. In order to better understand the function of this putative schizophrenia susceptibility gene, we attempted to demonstrate G72 mRNA and protein expression in relevant human brain regions.


The expression of G72 mRNA was studied by northern blotting and semi-quantitative SYBR-Green and Taqman RT-PCR. Protein expression in human tissue lysates was investigated by western blotting using two custom-made specific anti-G72 peptide antibodies. An in-depth in silico analysis of the G72/G30 locus was performed in order to try and identify motifs or regulatory elements that provide insight to G72 mRNA expression and transcript stability.


Despite using highly sensitive techniques, we failed to identify significant levels of G72 mRNA in a variety of human tissues (e.g. adult brain, amygdala, caudate nucleus, fetal brain, spinal cord and testis) human cell lines or schizophrenia/control post mortem BA10 samples. Furthermore, using western blotting in combination with sensitive detection methods, we were also unable to detect G72 protein in a number of human brain regions (including cerebellum and amygdala), spinal cord or testis. A detailed in silico analysis provides several lines of evidence that support the apparent low or absent expression of G72.


Our results suggest that native G72 protein is not normally present in the tissues that we analysed in this study. We also conclude that the lack of demonstrable G72 expression in relevant brain regions does not support a role for G72 in modulation of DAO activity and the pathology of schizophrenia via a DAO-mediated mechanism. In silico analysis suggests that G72 is not robustly expressed and that the transcript is potentially labile. Further studies are required to understand the significance of the G72/30 locus to schizophrenia.