Role of disrupted in schizophrenia 1 (DISC1) in stress-induced prefrontal cognitive dysfunction

N. J. Gamo, A. Duque, C. D. Paspalas, A. Kata, R. Fine, L. Boven, C. Bryan, T. Lo, K. Anighoro, L. Bermudez, K. Peng, A. Annor, A. Raja, E. Mansson, S. R. Taylor, K. Patel, A. A. Simen, A. F.T. Arnsten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Recent genetic studies have linked mental illness to alterations in disrupted in schizophrenia 1 (DISC1), a multifunctional scaffolding protein that regulates cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) signaling via interactions with phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4). High levels of cAMP during stress exposure impair function of the prefrontal cortex (PFC), a region gravely afflicted in mental illness. As stress can aggravate mental illness, genetic insults to DISC1 may worsen symptoms by increasing cAMP levels. The current study examined whether viral knockdown (KD) of the Disc1 gene in rat PFC increases susceptibility to stress-induced PFC dysfunction. Rats were trained in a spatial working memory task before receiving infusions of (a) an active viral construct that knocked down Disc1 in PFC (DISC1 KD group), (b) a 'scrambled' construct that had no effect on Disc1 (Scrambled group), or (c) an active construct that reduced DISC1 expression dorsal to PFC (Anatomical Control group). Data were compared with an unoperated Control group. Cognitive performance was assessed following mild restraint stress that had no effect on normal animals. DISC1 KD rats were impaired by 1h restraint stress, whereas Scrambled, Control, and Anatomical Control groups were unaffected. Thus, knocking down Disc1 in PFC reduced the threshold for stress-induced cognitive dysfunction, possibly through disinhibited cAMP signaling at neuronal network synapses. These findings may explain why patients with DISC1 mutations may be especially vulnerable to the effects of stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere328
JournalTranslational psychiatry
StatePublished - Dec 3 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Disrupted in schizophrenia 1
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Schizophrenia
  • Stress
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry


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