Whole Genome Sequencing of Multiplex Schizophrenia Pedigrees from an Isolated Population

Investigator: William Byerley, MD
Sponsor: Brain and Behavior Research Foundation

Location(s): Palau


The oceanic nation of Palau has been geographically and culturally isolated over most of its 2000 year history. As part of a study of the genetic basis of schizophrenia in Palau, we genotyped five large, multigenerational schizophrenia pedigrees using markers every 10 cM (CHLC/Weber screening set 6). The number of affected/unaffected individuals genotyped per family ranged from 11/21 to 5/5. Thus the pedigrees varied in their information for linkage, but each was capable of producing a substantial LOD score. We fitted a simple dominant and recessive model to these data using multipoint linkage analysis implemented by Simwalk2. Predictably, the most informative pedigrees produced the best linkage results. After genotyping additional markers in the region, one pedigree produced a LOD = 3.4 (5q distal) under the dominant model. Seven of nine schizophrenics in the pedigree, mostly 3rd-4th degree relatives, share a 15-cM, 7-marker haplotype. For a different pedigree, another promising signal occurred on distal 3q, LOD = 2.6, for the recessive model. For two other pedigrees, the best LODs were modest, slightly better than 2.0 on 5q and 9p, while the fifth pedigree produced no noteworthy linkage signal. Similar to the results for other populations, our results suggest there are multiple genes conferring liability to schizophrenia even in the small population of Palau (roughly 21 000 individuals) in remote Oceania.