Prioritization and association analysis of murine-derived candidate genes in anxiety-spectrum disorders

John M. Hettema, Bradley T. Webb, An Yuan Guo, Zhongming Zhao, Brion S. Maher, Xiangning Chen, Seon Sook An, Cuie Sun, Steven H. Aggen, Kenneth S. Kendler, Po Hsiu Kuo, Takeshi Otowa, Jonathan Flint, Edwin J. Van Den Oord

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background: Anxiety disorders are common psychiatric conditions that are highly comorbid with each other and related phenotypes such as depression, likely due to a shared genetic basis. Fear-related behaviors in mice have long been investigated as potential models of anxiety disorders, making integration of information from both murine and human genetic data a powerful strategy for identifying potential susceptibility genes for these conditions. Methods: We combined genome-wide association analysis of fear-related behaviors with strain distribution pattern analysis in heterogeneous stock mice to identify a preliminary list of 52 novel candidate genes. We ranked these according to three complementary sources of prior anxiety-related genetic data: 1) extant linkage and knockout studies in mice, 2) a meta-analysis of human linkage scans, and 3) a preliminary human genome-wide association study. We genotyped tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms covering the nine top-ranked regions in a two-stage association study of 1316 subjects from the Virginia Adult Twin Study of Psychiatric and Substance Use Disorders chosen for high or low genetic loading for anxiety-spectrum phenotypes (anxiety disorders, neuroticism, and major depression). Results: Multiple single nucleotide polymorphisms in the PPARGC1A gene demonstrated association in both stages that survived gene-wise correction for multiple testing. Conclusions: Integration of genetic data across human and murine studies suggests PPARGC1A as a potential susceptibility gene for anxiety-related disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)888-896
Number of pages9
JournalBiological psychiatry
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 1 2011


  • Anxiety disorder
  • candidate gene
  • data integration
  • depression
  • genetic association
  • internalizing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry


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