FEZ1 (fasciculation and elongation protein zeta 1), a mammalian ortholog of Caenorhabditis elegans UNC-76, interacts with DISC1 (disrupted in schizophrenia 1), a schizophrenia susceptibility gene product, and polymorphisms of human FEZ1 have been associated with schizophrenia. We have now investigated the role of FEZ1 in brain development and the pathogenesis of schizophrenia by generating mice that lack Fez1. Immunofluorescence staining revealed FEZ1 to be located predominantly in γ-aminobutyric acid-containing interneurons. The Fez1-/- mice showed marked hyperactivity in a variety of behavioral tests as well as enhanced behavioral responses to the psychostimulants MK-801 and methamphetamine. In vivo microdialysis revealed that the methamphetamine-induced release of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens was exaggerated in the mutant mice, suggesting that enhanced mesolimbic dopaminergic transmission contributes to their hyperactivity phenotype. These observations implicate impairment of FEZ1 function in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia.
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