Epistatic gene-gene interactions could contribute to the heritability of complex multigenic disorders, but few examples have been reported. Here, we focus on the role of aberrant dopaminergic signaling, involving the dopamine transporter DAT, a cocaine target, and the dopamine D2 receptor, which physically interacts with DAT. Splicing polymorphism rs2283265 of DRD2, encoding D2 receptors, were shown to confer risk of cocaine overdose/death (odds ratio ∼3) in subjects and controls from the Miami Dade County Brain Bank.(1) Risk of cocaine-related death attributable to the minor allele of rs2283265 was significantly enhanced to OR=7.5 (P=0.0008) in homozygous carriers of the main 6-repeat allele of DAT rs3836790, a regulatory VNTR in intron8 lacking significant effect itself. In contrast, carriers of the minor 5-repeat DAT allele showed no significant risk (OR=1.1, P=0.84). DAT rs3836790 and DRD2 rs2283265 also interacted by modulating DAT protein activity in the ventral putamen of cocaine abusers. In high-linkage disequilibrium with the VNTR, DAT rs6347 in exon9 yielded similar results. Assessing the impact of DAT alone, a rare DAT haplotype formed by the minor alleles of rs3836790 and rs27072, a regulatory DAT variant in the 3'-UTR, occurred in nearly one-third of the cocaine abusers but was absent in African American controls, apparently conferring strong risk. These results demonstrate gene-gene-drug interaction affecting risk of fatal cocaine intoxication.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Biological Psychiatry
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience