Hemizygous cryptic deletions of the q11 band of human chromosome 22 have been associated with a number of psychiatric and behavioural phenotypes, including schizophrenia. Here we report the isolation and characterization of PRODH, a human homologue of Drosophila melanogaster sluggish-A (slgA), which encodes proline dehydrogenase responsible for the behavioural phenotype of the slgA mutant. PRODH is localized at chromosome 22q11 in a region deleted in some psychiatric patients. We also isolated the mouse homologue of slgA (Prodh), identified a mutation in this gene in the Pro/Re hyperprolinaemic mouse strain and found that these mice have a deficit in sensorimotor gating accompanied by regional neurochemical alterations in the brain. Sensorimotor gating is a neural filtering process that allows attention to be focused on a given stimulus, and is affected in patients with neuropsychiatric disorders. Furthermore, several lines of evidence suggest that proline may serve as a modulator of synaptic transmission in the mammalian brain. Our observations, in conjunction with the chromosomal location of PRODH, suggest a potential involvement of this gene in the 22q11-associated psychiatric and behavioural phenotypes.
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