Synergistic effects of common schizophrenia risk variants


The mechanisms by which common risk variants of small effect interact to contribute to complex genetic disorders are unclear. Here, we apply a genetic approach, using isogenic human induced pluripotent stem cells, to evaluate the effects of schizophrenia (SZ)-associated common variants predicted to function as SZ expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs). By integrating CRISPR-mediated gene editing, activation and repression technologies to study one putative SZ eQTL (FURIN rs4702) and four top-ranked SZ eQTL genes (FURIN, SNAP91, TSNARE1 and CLCN3), our platform resolves pre- and postsynaptic neuronal deficits, recapitulates genotype-dependent gene expression differences and identifies convergence downstream of SZ eQTL gene perturbations. Our observations highlight the cell-type-specific effects of common variants and demonstrate a synergistic effect between SZ eQTL genes that converges on synaptic function. We propose that the links between rare and common variants implicated in psychiatric disease risk constitute a potentially generalizable phenomenon occurring more widely in complex genetic disorders.