Schizophrenia gene traced in chicken study

Posted on January 8, 2016

Researchers at Linköping University have used the process of domestication to identify the schizophrenia gene. Domestication has led to a many changes, but one of the earliest to occur was a decrease in anxiety behaviour.

"Domestication therefore offers a unique opportunity to find the genes responsible for anxiety, by comparing domestic birds with their wild ancestors," says Dominic Wright, the lead researcher of the study now being published in the Genetics journal.

By crossing wild with domestic chickens for multiple generations in a genetic mapping experiment, then measuring a form of anxiety behaviour, gene regions affecting anxiety were identified.

Gene expression in a specific region of the brain, the hypothalamus, was then measured in over 120 individuals, and used to examine the genetic regions more closely, allowing the identification of ten genes affecting variation in anxiety behaviour in these birds. There were correlations found for some of these genes in humans affected by schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

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Source material from Science Daily

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