Selective reduction of a PDZ protein, SAP-97, in the prefrontal cortex of patients with chronic schizophrenia


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Hiroyuki Nawa, Department of Molecular Biology, Brain Research Institute, Niigata University, Asahimachi-dori 1–757, Niigata 951–8585, Japan. E-mail:


Many postsynaptic density proteins carrying postsynaptic density-95/discs large/zone occludens-1 (PDZ) domain(s) interact with glutamate receptors to control receptor dynamics and synaptic plasticity. Here we examined the expression of PDZ proteins, synapse-associated protein (SAP) 97, postsynaptic density (PSD)-95, chapsyn-110, GRIP1 and SAP102, in post-mortem brains of schizophrenic patients and control subjects, and evaluated their contribution to schizophrenic pathology. Among these PDZ proteins, SAP97 exhibited the most marked change: SAP97 protein levels were decreased to less than half that of the control levels specifically in the prefrontal cortex of schizophrenic patients. In parallel, its binding partner, GluR1, similarly decreased in the same brain region. The correlation between SAP97 and GluR1 levels in control subjects was, however, altered in schizophrenic patients. SAP102 levels were also significantly reduced in the hippocampus of schizophrenic patients, but this reduction was correlated with sample storage time and post-mortem interval. There were no changes in the levels of the other PDZ proteins in any of the regions examined. In addition, neuroleptic treatment failed to mimic the SAP97 change. These findings suggest that a phenotypic loss of SAP97 is associated with the postsynaptic impairment in prefrontal excitatory circuits of schizophrenic patients.