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The psychiatric risk gene BRD1 modulates mitochondrial bioenergetics by transcriptional regulation

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Bromodomain containing 1 (BRD1) encodes an epigenetic regulator that controls the expression of genetic networks linked to mental illness. BRD1 is essential for normal brain development and its role in psychopathology has been demonstrated in genetic and preclinical studies. However, the neurobiology that bridges its molecular and neuropathological effects remains poorly explored. Here, using publicly available datasets, we find that BRD1 targets nuclear genes encoding mitochondrial proteins in cell lines and that modulation of BRD1 expression, irrespective of whether it is downregulation or upregulation of one or the other existing BRD1 isoforms (BRD1-L and BRD1-S), leads to distinct shifts in the expression profile of these genes. We further show that the expression of nuclear genes encoding mitochondrial proteins is negatively correlated with the expression of BRD1 mRNA during human brain development. In accordance, we identify the key gate-keeper of mitochondrial metabolism, Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) among BRD1’s co-transcription factors and provide evidence that BRD1 acts as a co-repressor of PPAR-mediated transcription. Lastly, when using quantitative PCR, mitochondria-targeted fluorescent probes, and the Seahorse XFe96 Analyzer, we demonstrate that modulation of BRD1 expression in cell lines alters mitochondrial physiology (mtDNA content and mitochondrial mass), metabolism (reducing power), and bioenergetics (among others, basal, maximal, and spare respiration) in an expression level- and isoform-dependent manner. Collectively, our data suggest that BRD1 is a transcriptional regulator of nuclear-encoded mitochondrial proteins and that disruption of BRD1’s genomic actions alters mitochondrial functions. This may be the mechanism underlying the cellular and atrophic changes of neurons previously associated with BRD1 deficiency and suggests that mitochondrial dysfunction may be a possible link between genetic variation in BRD1 and psychopathology in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Article number319
JournalTranslational Psychiatry
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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