Convergent genomic and pharmacological evidence of PI3K/GSK3 signaling alterations in neurons from schizophrenia patients

Laura Stertz, Jessica Di Re, Guangsheng Pei, Gabriel R. Fries, Emily Mendez, Shenglan Li, Laura Smith-Callahan, Henriette Raventos, Jerricho Tipo, Rohan Cherukuru, Zhongming Zhao, Ying Liu, Peilin Jia, Fernanda Laezza, Consuelo Walss-Bass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Human-induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) allow for the establishment of brain cellular models of psychiatric disorders that account for a patient’s genetic background. Here, we conducted an RNA-sequencing profiling study of hiPSC-derived cell lines from schizophrenia (SCZ) subjects, most of which are from a multiplex family, from the population isolate of the Central Valley of Costa Rica. hiPSCs, neural precursor cells, and cortical neurons derived from six healthy controls and seven SCZ subjects were generated using standard methodology. Transcriptome from these cells was obtained using Illumina HiSeq 2500, and differential expression analyses were performed using DESeq2 (|fold change|>1.5 and false discovery rate < 0.3), in patients compared to controls. We identified 454 differentially expressed genes in hiPSC-derived neurons, enriched in pathways including phosphoinositide 3-kinase/glycogen synthase kinase 3 (PI3K/GSK3) signaling, with serum-glucocorticoid kinase 1 (SGK1), an inhibitor of glycogen synthase kinase 3β, as part of this pathway. We further found that pharmacological inhibition of downstream effectors of the PI3K/GSK3 pathway, SGK1 and GSK3, induced alterations in levels of neurite markers βIII tubulin and fibroblast growth factor 12, with differential effects in patients compared to controls. While demonstrating the utility of hiPSCs derived from multiplex families to identify significant cell-specific gene network alterations in SCZ, these studies support a role for disruption of PI3K/GSK3 signaling as a risk factor for SCZ.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)673-682
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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