J Kirsty Millar

The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

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Publications (47)340.31 Total impact

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    PLoS ONE 06/2014; · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • Molecular Psychiatry 02/2014; 19(2):141-3. · 15.15 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cognitive dysfunction is central to the schizophrenia phenotype. Genetic and functional studies have implicated Disrupted-in-Schizophrenia 1 (DISC1), a leading candidate gene for schizophrenia and related psychiatric conditions, in cognitive function. Altered expression of DISC1 and DISC1-interactors has been identified in schizophrenia. Dysregulated expression of DISC1-interactome genes might, therefore, contribute to schizophrenia susceptibility via disruption of molecular systems required for normal cognitive function. Here, the blood RNA expression levels of DISC1 and DISC1-interacting proteins were measured in 63 control subjects. Cognitive function was assessed using neuropsychiatric tests and functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to assess the activity of prefrontal cortical regions during the N-back working memory task, which is abnormal in schizophrenia. Pairwise correlations between gene expression levels and the relationship between gene expression levels and cognitive function and N-back-elicited brain activity were assessed. Finally, the expression levels of DISC1, AKAP9, FEZ1, NDEL1 and PCM1 were compared between 63 controls and 69 schizophrenic subjects. We found that DISC1-interactome genes showed correlated expression in the blood of healthy individuals. The expression levels of several interactome members were correlated with cognitive performance and N-back-elicited activity in the prefrontal cortex. In addition, DISC1 and NDEL1 showed decreased expression in schizophrenic subjects compared to healthy controls. Our findings highlight the importance of the coordinated expression of DISC1-interactome genes for normal cognitive function and suggest that dysregulated DISC1 and NDEL1 expression might, in part, contribute to susceptibility for schizophrenia via disruption of prefrontal cortex-dependent cognitive functions.
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(6):e99892. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Disrupted in schizophrenia 1 (DISC1) is a risk factor for a spectrum of neuropsychiatric illnesses including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder. Here we use two missense Disc1 mouse mutants, described previously with distinct behavioural phenotypes, to demonstrate that Disc1 variation exerts differing effects on the formation of newly generated neurons in the adult hippocampus. Disc1 mice carrying a homozygous Q31L mutation, and displaying depressive-like phenotypes, have fewer proliferating cells while Disc1 mice with a homozygous L100P mutation that induces schizophrenia-like phenotypes, show changes in the generation, placement and maturation of newly generated neurons in the hippocampal dentate gyrus. Our results demonstrate Disc1 allele specific effects in the adult hippocampus, and suggest that the divergence in behavioural phenotypes may in part stem from changes in specific cell populations in the brain.
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(10):e108088. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: DISC1 is a candidate risk factor for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and severe recurrent depression. Here we demonstrate that DISC1 associates robustly with TRAK1 which is, in turn, known to interact with the outer mitochondrial membrane proteins Miro1/2, linking mitochondria to the kinesin motor for microtubule-based subcellular trafficking. DISC1 also associates with Miro1 and is thus a component of functional mitochondrial transport complexes. Consistent with these observations, in neuronal axons DISC1 promotes specifically anterograde mitochondrial transport. DISC1 thus participates directly in mitochondrial trafficking, which is essential for neural development and neurotransmission. Any factor affecting mitochondrial DISC1 function is hence likely to have deleterious consequences for the brain, potentially contributing to increased risk of psychiatric illness. Intriguingly, therefore, a rare putatively causal human DISC1 sequence variant, 37 W, impairs the ability of DISC1 to promote anterograde mitochondrial transport. This is likely related to a number of mitochondrial abnormalities induced by expression of DISC1-37 W, which redistributes mitochondrial DISC1 and enhances kinesin mitochondrial association, while also altering protein interactions within the mitochondrial transport complex.
    Human Molecular Genetics 10/2013; · 7.69 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A balanced t(1;11) translocation that transects the Disrupted in schizophrenia 1 (DISC1) gene shows genome-wide significant linkage for schizophrenia and recurrent major depressive disorder (rMDD) in a single large Scottish family, but genome-wide and exome sequencing-based association studies have not supported a role for DISC1 in psychiatric illness. To explore DISC1 in more detail, we sequenced 528 kb of the DISC1 locus in 653 cases and 889 controls. We report 2718 validated single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of which 2010 have a minor allele frequency of <1%. Only 38% of these variants are reported in the 1000 Genomes Project European subset. This suggests that many DISC1 SNPs remain undiscovered and are essentially private. Rare coding variants identified exclusively in patients were found in likely functional protein domains. Significant region-wide association was observed between rs16856199 and rMDD (P=0.026, unadjusted P=6.3 × 10-5, OR=3.48). This was not replicated in additional recurrent major depression samples (replication P=0.11). Combined analysis of both the original and replication set supported the original association (P=0.0058, OR=1.46). Evidence for segregation of this variant with disease in families was limited to those of rMDD individuals referred from primary care. Burden analysis for coding and non-coding variants gave nominal associations with diagnosis and measures of mood and cognition. Together, these observations are likely to generalise to other candidate genes for major mental illness and may thus provide guidelines for the design of future studies.
    Molecular Psychiatry 06/2013; · 15.15 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Paralogs NDE1 (nuclear distribution element 1) and NDEL1 (NDE-like 1) are essential for mitosis and neurodevelopment. Both proteins are predicted to have similar structures, based upon high sequence similarity, and they co-complex in mammalian cells. X-ray diffraction studies and homology modeling suggest that their N-terminal regions (residues 8-167) adopt continuous, extended α-helical coiled-coil structures, but no experimentally derived information on the structure of their C-terminal regions or the architecture of the full-length proteins is available. In the case of NDE1, no biophysical data exists. Here we characterize the structural architecture of both full-length proteins utilizing negative stain electron microscopy along with our established paradigm of chemical cross-linking followed by tryptic digestion, mass spectrometry, and database searching, which we enhance using isotope labeling for mixed NDE1-NDEL1. We determined that full-length NDE1 forms needle-like dimers and tetramers in solution, similar to crystal structures of NDEL1, as well as chain-like end-to-end polymers. The C-terminal domain of each protein, required for interaction with key protein partners dynein and DISC1 (disrupted-in-schizophrenia 1), includes a predicted disordered region that allows a bent back structure. This facilitates interaction of the C-terminal region with the N-terminal coiled-coil domain and is in agreement with previous results showing N- and C-terminal regions of NDEL1 and NDE1 cooperating in dynein interaction. It sheds light on recently identified mutations in the NDE1 gene that cause truncation of the encoded protein. Additionally, analysis of mixed NDE1-NDEL1 complexes demonstrates that NDE1 and NDEL1 can interact directly.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 07/2012; 287(39):32381-93. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Disrupted-In-Schizophrenia 1 (DISC1) was identified as a risk factor for psychiatric illness through its disruption by a balanced chromosomal translocation, t(1;11)(q42.1;q14.3), that co-segregates with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression. We previously reported that the translocation reduces DISC1 expression, consistent with a haploinsufficiency disease model. Here we report that, in lymphoblastoid cell lines, the translocation additionally results in the production of abnormal transcripts due to the fusion of DISC1 with a disrupted gene on chromosome 11 (DISC1FP1/Boymaw). These chimeric transcripts encode abnormal proteins, designated CP1, CP60 and CP69, consisting of DISC1 amino acids 1-597 plus 1, 60 or 69 amino acids, respectively. The novel 69 amino acids in CP69 induce increased α-helical content and formation of large stable protein assemblies. The same is predicted for CP60. Both CP60 and CP69 exhibit profoundly altered functional properties within cell lines and neurons. Both are predominantly targeted to mitochondria, where they induce clustering and loss of membrane potential, indicative of severe mitochondrial dysfunction. There is currently no access to neural material from translocation carriers to confirm these findings, but there is no reason to suppose that these chimeric transcripts will not also be expressed in the brain. There is thus potential for the production of abnormal chimeric proteins in the brains of translocation carriers, although at substantially lower levels than for native DISC1. The mechanism by which inheritance of the translocation increases risk of psychiatric illness may therefore involve both DISC1 haploinsufficiency and mitochondrial deficiency due to the effects of abnormal chimeric protein expression. GenBank accession numbers: DISC1FP1 (EU302123), Boymaw (GU134617), der 11 chimeric transcript DISC1FP1 exon 2 to DISC1 exon 9 (JQ650115), der 1 chimeric transcript DISC1 exon 4 to DISC1FP1 exon 4 (JQ650116), der 1 chimeric transcript DISC1 exon 6 to DISC1FP1 exon 3a (JQ650117).
    Human Molecular Genetics 04/2012; 21(15):3374-86. · 7.69 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Disrupted-In-Schizophrenia 1 (DISC1), a strong genetic candidate for psychiatric illness, encodes a multicompartmentalized molecular scaffold that regulates interacting proteins with key roles in neurodevelopment and plasticity. Missense DISC1 variants are associated with the risk of mental illness and with brain abnormalities in healthy carriers, but the underlying mechanisms are unclear. We examined the effect of rare and common DISC1 amino acid substitutions on subcellular targeting. We report that both the rare putatively causal variant 37W and the common variant 607F independently disrupt DISC1 nuclear targeting in a dominant-negative fashion, predicting that DISC1 nuclear expression is impaired in 37W and 607F carriers. In the nucleus, DISC1 interacts with the transcription factor Activating Transcription Factor 4 (ATF4), which is involved in the regulation of cellular stress responses, emotional behaviour and memory consolidation. At basal cAMP levels, wild-type DISC1 inhibits the transcriptional activity of ATF4, an effect that is weakened by both 37W and 607F independently, most likely as a consequence of their defective nuclear targeting. The common variant 607F additionally reduces DISC1/ATF4 interaction, which likely contributes to its weakened inhibitory effect. We also demonstrate that DISC1 modulates transcriptional responses to endoplasmic reticulum stress, and that this modulatory effect is ablated by 37W and 607F. By showing that DISC1 amino acid substitutions associated with psychiatric illness affect its regulatory function in ATF4-mediated transcription, our study highlights a potential mechanism by which these variants may impact on transcriptional events mediating cognition, emotional reactivity and stress responses, all processes of direct relevance to psychiatric illness.
    Human Molecular Genetics 03/2012; 21(12):2779-92. · 7.69 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Psychiatric genetics research, as exemplified by the DISC1 gene, aspires to inform on mental health etiology and to suggest improved strategies for intervention. DISC1 was discovered in 2000 through the molecular cloning of a chromosomal translocation that segregated with a spectrum of major mental illnesses in a single large Scottish family. Through in vitro experiments and mouse models, DISC1 has been firmly established as a genetic risk factor for a spectrum of psychiatric illness. As a consequence of its protein scaffold function, the DISC1 protein impacts on many aspects of brain function, including neurosignaling and neurodevelopment. DISC1 is a pathfinder for understanding psychopathology, brain development, signaling and circuitry. Although much remains to be learnt and understood, potential targets for drug development are starting to emerge, and in this review, we will discuss the 10 years of research that has helped us understand key roles of DISC1 in psychiatric disease.
    Trends in Molecular Medicine 12/2011; 17(12):699-706. · 9.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Nuclear distribution factor E-homolog 1 (NDE1), Lissencephaly 1 (LIS1), and NDE-like 1 (NDEL1) together participate in essential neurodevelopmental processes, including neuronal precursor proliferation and differentiation, neuronal migration, and neurite outgrowth. NDE1/LIS1/NDEL1 interacts with Disrupted in Schizophrenia 1 (DISC1) and the cAMP-hydrolyzing enzyme phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4). DISC1, PDE4, NDE1, and NDEL1 have each been implicated as genetic risk factors for major mental illness. Here, we demonstrate that DISC1 and PDE4 modulate NDE1 phosphorylation by cAMP-dependent protein kinase A (PKA) and identify a novel PKA substrate site on NDE1 at threonine-131 (T131). Homology modeling predicts that phosphorylation at T131 modulates NDE1-LIS1 and NDE1-NDEL1 interactions, which we confirm experimentally. DISC1-PDE4 interaction thus modulates organization of the NDE1/NDEL1/LIS1 complex. T131-phosphorylated NDE1 is present at the postsynaptic density, in proximal axons, within the nucleus, and at the centrosome where it becomes substantially enriched during mitosis. Mutation of the NDE1 T131 site to mimic PKA phosphorylation inhibits neurite outgrowth. Thus PKA-dependent phosphorylation of the NDE1/LIS1/NDEL1 complex is DISC1-PDE4 modulated and likely to regulate its neural functions.
    Journal of Neuroscience 06/2011; 31(24):9043-54. · 6.91 Impact Factor
  • Molecular Psychiatry 03/2011; 16(7):693-4. · 15.15 Impact Factor
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    Molecular Psychiatry 02/2011; 16(6):585-7. · 15.15 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The biology of schizophrenia is complex with multiple hypotheses (dopamine, glutamate, neurodevelopmental) well supported to underlie the disease. Pathways centered on the risk factor "disrupted in schizophrenia 1" (DISC1) may be able to explain and unite these disparate hypotheses and will be the topic of this mini-symposium preview. Nearly a decade after its original identification at the center of a translocation breakpoint in a large Scottish family that was associated with major psychiatric disease, we are starting to obtain credible insights into its function and role in disease etiology. This preview will highlight a number of exciting areas of current DISC1 research that are revealing roles for DISC1 during normal brain development and also in the disease state. Together these different threads will provide a timely and exciting overview of the DISC1 field and its potential in furthering our understanding of psychiatric diseases and in developing new therapies.
    Journal of Neuroscience 10/2009; 29(41):12768-75. · 6.91 Impact Factor
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    Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 07/2009; 384(3):400. · 2.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Nuclear Distribution Factor E Homolog 1 (NDE1) and NDE-Like 1 (NDEL1) are highly homologous mammalian proteins. However, whereas NDEL1 is well studied, there is remarkably little known about NDE1. We demonstrate the presence of multiple isoforms of both NDE1 and NDEL1 in the brain, showing that NDE1 binds directly to multiple isoforms of Disrupted in Schizophrenia 1 (DISC1), and to itself. We also show that NDE1 can complex with NDEL1. Together these results predict a high degree of complexity of DISC1-mediated regulation of neuronal activity.
    Neuroscience Letters 12/2008; 449(3):228-33. · 2.03 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Disrupted-In-Schizophrenia 1 (DISC1) is a risk factor for schizophrenia and other major mental illnesses. Its protein binding partners include the Nuclear Distribution Factor E Homologs (NDE1 and NDEL1), LIS1, and phosphodiesterases 4B and 4D (PDE4B and PDE4D). We demonstrate that NDE1, NDEL1 and LIS1, together with their binding partner dynein, associate with DISC1, PDE4B and PDE4D within the cell, and provide evidence that this complex is present at the centrosome. LIS1 and NDEL1 have been previously suggested to be synaptic, and we now demonstrate localisation of DISC1, NDE1, and PDE4B at synapses in cultured neurons. NDE1 is phosphorylated by cAMP-dependant Protein Kinase A (PKA), whose activity is, in turn, regulated by the cAMP hydrolysis activity of phosphodiesterases, including PDE4. We propose that DISC1 acts as an assembly scaffold for all of these proteins and that the NDE1/NDEL1/LIS1/dynein complex is modulated by cAMP levels via PKA and PDE4.
    Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 12/2008; 377(4):1091-6. · 2.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The DISC locus is located at the breakpoint of a balanced t(1;11) chromosomal translocation in a large and unique Scottish family. This translocation segregates in a highly statistically significant manner with a broad diagnosis of psychiatric illness, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression, as well as with a narrow diagnosis of schizophrenia alone. Two novel genes were identified at this locus and due to the high prevalence of schizophrenia in this family, they were named Disrupted-in-Schizophrenia-1 (DISC1) and Disrupted-in-Schizophrenia-2 (DISC2). DISC1 encodes a novel multifunctional scaffold protein, whereas DISC2 is a putative noncoding RNA gene antisense to DISC1. A number of independent genetic linkage and association studies in diverse populations support the original linkage findings in the Scottish family and genetic evidence now implicates the DISC locus in susceptibility to schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder and major depression as well as various cognitive traits. Despite this, with the exception of the t(1;11) translocation, robust evidence for a functional variant(s) is still lacking and genetic heterogeneity is likely. Of the two genes identified at this locus, DISC1 has been prioritized as the most probable candidate susceptibility gene for psychiatric illness, as its protein sequence is directly disrupted by the translocation. Much research has been undertaken in recent years to elucidate the biological functions of the DISC1 protein and to further our understanding of how it contributes to the pathogenesis of schizophrenia. These data are the main subject of this review; however, the potential involvement of DISC2 in the pathogenesis of psychiatric illness is also discussed. A detailed picture of DISC1 function is now emerging, which encompasses roles in neurodevelopment, cytoskeletal function and cAMP signalling, and several DISC1 interactors have also been defined as independent genetic susceptibility factors for psychiatric illness. DISC1 is a hub protein in a multidimensional risk pathway for major mental illness, and studies of this pathway are opening up opportunities for a better understanding of causality and possible mechanisms of intervention.
    Molecular Psychiatry 02/2008; 13(1):36-64. · 15.15 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Disrupted in schizophrenia 1 (DISC1) is one of the most convincing genetic risk factors for major mental illness identified to date. DISC1 interacts directly with phosphodiesterase 4B (PDE4B), an independently identified risk factor for schizophrenia. DISC1-PDE4B complexes are therefore likely to be involved in molecular mechanisms underlying psychiatric illness. PDE4B hydrolyses cAMP and DISC1 may regulate cAMP signalling through modulating PDE4B activity. There is evidence that expression of both genes is altered in some psychiatric patients. Moreover, DISC1 missense mutations that give rise to phenotypes related to schizophrenia and depression in mice are located within binding sites for PDE4B. These mutations reduce the association between DISC1 and PDE4B, and one results in reduced brain PDE4B activity. Altered DISC1-PDE4B interaction may thus underlie the symptoms of some cases of schizophrenia and depression. Factors likely to influence this interaction include expression levels, binding site affinities and the DISC1 and PDE4 isoforms involved. DISC1 and PDE4 isoforms are targeted to specific subcellular locations which may contribute to the compartmentalization of cAMP signalling. Dysregulated cAMP signalling in specific cellular compartments may therefore be a predisposing factor for major mental illness.
    The Journal of Physiology 11/2007; 584(Pt 2):401-5. · 4.38 Impact Factor
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    Molecular Psychiatry 11/2007; 12(10):897-9. · 15.15 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

3k Citations
340.31 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2000–2014
    • The University of Edinburgh
      • • Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine
      • • Centre for Molecular Medicine
      • • Medical Genetics Unit
      Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
    • Western General Hospital
      Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
  • 1997–1998
    • Medical Research Council (UK)
      • MRC Human Genetics Unit
      London, ENG, United Kingdom