Increase in GSK3β gene copy number variation in bipolar disorder


  • This article contains supplementary material, which may be viewed at the American Journal of Medical Genetics website at

  • Please cite this article as follows: Lachman HM, Pedrosa E, Petruolo OA, Cockerham M, Papolos A, Novak T, Papolos DF, Stopkova P. 2007. Increase in GSK3β Gene Copy Number Variation in Bipolar Disorder. Am J Med Genet Part B 144B:259–265.


The analysis of submicroscopic copy number variations (CNVs), also known as copy number polymorphisms (CNPs), is emerging as a new tool for understanding the genetic basis of cancer, developmental disorders, and complex traits. One area where this may be particularly useful is in the identification of genetic variants underlying schizophrenia (SZ) and bipolar disorder (BD). Linkage analysis and pharmacological studies carried out over the past decade have implicated a number of positional and physiological candidate genes. Yet, despite extensive analysis, the underlying allelic variants responsible for disease susceptibility have remained, largely, elusive. Although the borders of most CNV have not been precisely mapped, it appears that a considerable number of SZ and BD candidate genes have their coding elements disrupted by polymorphic CNVs, suggesting that these would be good variants to consider for underlying disease susceptibility. One such gene is GSK3β, which codes for glycogen synthase kinase, a key component of the Wnt signaling pathway and a target of lithium salts. A CNV in the GSK3β locus at chromosome 3q13.3 appears to disrupt the gene's 3′-coding elements. The CNV also affects two other annotated genes. We now report that patients with BD have an increased frequency of this CNV—primarily the duplication variant—compared with controls (P = 0.002). The finding suggests that GSK3β may be involved in BD susceptibility in some individuals and that CNVs in this and other candidate genes for psychiatric disorders should be analyzed as causative functional genetic variants. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.