The Genomics of Schizophrenia: The NMDA receptor

Nicole Parent

Schizophrenia is a complicated polygenetic disease that has been associated with variants in at least 100 genes. Glutamate ionotropic receptor NMDA type subunit 2A (GRIN2A) is a protein coding gene thought to play a role in schizophrenia by hindering long term potentiation, known to be effected in patients. Studying this gene and other closely associated genes will give a better understanding of this disease allowing for new drug targets. Online journal articles and resources such as Ensembl, STRING, and Kegg have been utilized to provide an understanding of the GRIN2A gene.


Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness that effects 1% of the world population. People with schizophrenia experience auditory hallucinations, delusions, disorganized language, and restriction of emotion (Hollandsworth, pg. 71). Onset of the disease typically occurs in young adulthood but can begin in various stages of life. The standard treatments are anti psychotic medications that target dopamine receptors. Due to anti psychotic drugs having major side effects for the patient researchers are searching for better treatment options. To do this a better understanding of the disease at the molecular level is required.

One area researchers are studying is the process of long term potentiation (LTP) that seems to be effected in people with schizophrenia. LTP allows for learning and memories by increasing the synaptic strength between neurons (Asarnow, 2017). Patients with schizophrenia show impaired verbal and visual-spatial memory, and impaired learning (Asarnow, 2017). These studies have lead researchers to look at the molecular pathways and proteins involved in LTP to understand what is going on at the molecular level in patients with schizophrenia. The receptor N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) plays a major role in LTP. Several genes including GRIN2A, GRIN1, and GRIN2B make the subunits for the NMDA receptor and variants in these genes can be markers for schizophrenia.

Research Question

1. What genes are involved with schizophrenia.
2. How variants in these genes effect the LTP in patients with schizophrenia.




Broader impact

Work Cited