Background Diverse and circumstantial evidence suggests that schizophrenia is a neurodevelopmental disorder. Genes contributing to neurodevelopment may be potential candidates for schizophrenia. The human SOX11 gene is a member of the developmentally essential SOX (Sry-related HMG box) transcription factor gene family and mapped to chromosome 2p, a potential candidate region for schizophrenia.
Methods Our previous genome-wide association study (GWAS) implicated an involvement of SOX11 with schizophrenia in a Chinese Han population. To further investigate the association between SOX11 polymorphisms and schizophrenia, we performed an independent replication case-control association study in a sample including 768 cases and 1348 controls.
Results After Bonferroni correction, four SNPs in SOX11 distal 3 ' UTR significantly associated with schizophrenia in the allele frequencies: rs16864067 (allelic P = .0022), rs12478711 (allelic P = .0009), rs2564045 (allelic P = .0027), and rs2252087 (allelic P = .0025). The haplotype analysis of the selected SNPs showed different haplotype frequencies for two blocks (rs4371338-rs7596062-rs16864067-rs12478711 and rs2564045-rs2252087-rs2564055-rs1366733) between cases and controls. Further luciferase assay and electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA) revealed the schizophrenia-associated SOX11 SNPs may influence SOX11 gene expression, and the risk and non-risk alleles may have different affinity to certain transcription factors and can recruit divergent factors.
Conclusions Our results suggest SOX11 as a susceptibility gene for schizophrenia, and SOX11 polymorphisms and haplotypes in the distal 3 ' UTR of the gene might modulate transcriptional activity by serving as cis-regulatory elements and recruiting transcriptional activators or repressors. Also, these SNPs may potentiate as diagnostic markers for the disease.