There is a decrease in the expression of the reelin gene (RELN) in the brain of schizophrenia patients, which can underlie observed cognitive abnormalities. It is suggested that this decrease is caused by the hypermethylation of the RELN promoter. The aim of the study was to investigate methylation of the RELN promoter in the peripheral blood of schizophrenia patients and its association with their cognitive deficits. A modified SMRT-BS (single-molecule real-time bisulfite sequencing) was used. We determined the methylation rate of 170 CpG sites within a 1465 bp DNA region containing the entire CpG island in the RELN promoter in 51 schizophrenia patients and 52 healthy controls. All subjects completed a battery of neuropsychological tests. There were no DNA methylation changes associated with schizophrenia. Most CpGs sites were unmethylated in both groups. At the same time, there was a variability in the methylation level of different regions within the promoter. The methylation level in the area from -258 to -151 bp relative to RELN transcription start site was a significant predictor of the index of patients' cognitive functioning if sex, age, smoking, education, and polymorphism rsl858815 had been considered. The positive correlation between the methylation rate in this region and cognitive index suggests that the hypomethylation of the RELN promoter could contribute to the development of cognitive deficits in schizophrenia.
Journal: Molekuliarnaia biologiia