Network modules linking expression and methylation in prefrontal cortex of schizophrenia

Dongdong Lin, Jiayu Chen, Kuaikuai Duan, Nora Perrone-Bizzozero, Jing Sui, Vince Calhoun, Jingyu Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tremendous work has demonstrated the critical roles of genetics, epigenetics as well as their interplay in brain transcriptional regulations in the pathology of schizophrenia (SZ). There is great success currently in the dissection of the genetic components underlying risk-conferring transcriptomic networks. However, the study of regulating effect of epigenetics in the etiopathogenesis of SZ still faces many challenges. In this work, we investigated DNA methylation and gene expression from the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) region of schizophrenia patients and healthy controls using weighted correlation network approach. We identified and replicated two expression and two methylation modules significantly associated with SZ. Among them, one pair of expression and methylation modules were significantly overlapped in the module genes which were significantly enriched in astrocyte-associated functional pathways, and specifically expressed in astrocytes. Another two linked expression-methylation module pairs were involved ageing process with module genes mostly related to oligodendrocyte development and myelination, and specifically expressed in oligodendrocytes. Further examination of underlying quantitative trait loci (QTLs) showed significant enrichment in genetic risk of most psychiatric disorders for expression QTLs but not for methylation QTLs. These results support the coherence between methylation and gene expression at the network level, and suggest a combinatorial effect of genetics and epigenetics in regulating gene expression networks specific to glia cells in relation to SZ and ageing process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)876-893
Number of pages18
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • DNA methylation
  • ageing
  • brain post-mortem
  • gene expression
  • schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Research


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