Experts hope the discovery could pave the way for the development of new drugs to treat the condition.
team, from the University of Aberdeen, followed by an earlier unexpected finding by the same team two years ago linking a gene misunderstanding with mental health disorders.
2014 study looked into five groups of patients and identified a gene mutation ULK4 found much more frequently in patients with schizophrenia.
The same mutation was also found in some people with bipolar disorder, depression and autism.
Dr. Bing Lang, Institute of Medical Sciences, first author on the paper of the University, said: “schizophrenia and other mental health disorders are multifaceted and is extremely difficult to identify the genes in combination with other environmental factors contribute to people developing the disease. ”
Schizophrenia is a mental illness that causes a variety of different psychological symptoms, such as delusions, hallucinations and behavioral changes.
Before the work of Aberdeen, ULK4 had previously been associated with hypertension – high blood pressure -., But never before with mental health disorders
In the latter study, in collaboration with Tongji University, Shanghai, the team managed to ‘turn off’ ULK4 on selected in the brains of mice stem cells.
offspring of these stem cells were then found he appeared in the wrong places, he became “lost” and had less communication with neighboring nerve cells.
But this is completely reversed when the ULK4 gene ‘turned away’.
researchers have concluded that ULK4 plays an important role in brain development role and when it is defective, the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders such as schizophrenia is increased.
causes are highly variable with genetic and environmental factors contributing to the overall risk.
Although the chances of inheriting the disease are estimated between 60 and 80 percent, the genes responsible for causing the disease remain highly controversial.
identifying genes that are responsible for these diseases opens the way for the development of therapies to treat the symptoms of these conditions.
Dr. Lang said: “This latest study supports our highly innovative ULK4 findings that the gene plays a role in normal brain development, and that a mutation in the gene that contributes to risk of several neurodevelopmental disorders.
“We expect to fully understand the functions of ULK4 in schizophrenia, this will pave the way for the development of new drugs for the treatment of this devastating disease.”
research was funded by the Carnegie Trust, Tenovus Scotland, British Chinese Council, Scholarship Council China, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the University of Aberdeen and the University of Tongji.
findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports.