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Keywords:

  • enhancer;
  • human;
  • polymorphism;
  • serotonin transporter;
  • transcriptional regulation;
  • VNTR

Abstract

We have demonstrated that a variable number tandem repeat domain (VNTR) within intron 2 of the serotonin transporter gene is a transcriptional regulatory domain which is potentially correlated with a predisposition to affective disorders and other behavioural conditions. This correlation based on copy number of the VNTR alone (nine, 10 or 12 copies of 16/17 base-pair element) has been controversial and not reproduced in all studies. We demonstrate that individual repeat elements within the VNTR domain differ in their enhancer activity in an embryonic stem cell model. This has implications for both the mechanism by which these VNTRs are correlated with the progression of the disease and suggests that clinical analysis should now be extended to correlate sequence variation within the VNTR with the disorder. The latter may resolve some of the conflicting data published to date.