Background The rs1344706 polymorphism in ZNF804A is robustly associated with schizophrenia (SZ), yet brain and behavioral phenotypes related to this variant have not been extensively characterized. In turn, SZ is associated with abnormal non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep neurophysiology. To examine whether rs1344706 is associated with intermediate neurophysiological traits in the absence of disease, we assessed the relationship between genotype, sleep neurophysiology, and sleep-dependent memory consolidation in healthy participants.
Methods We recruited healthy adult males, with no history of psychiatric disorder, from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) birth cohort. Participants were homozygous for either the SZ-associated ‘A’ allele (N=25) or the alternative ‘C’ allele (N=22) at rs1344706. Actigraphy, polysomnography (PSG) and a motor sequencing task (MST) were used to characterize daily activity patterns, sleep neurophysiology and sleep-dependent memory consolidation.
Results Average MST learning and sleep-dependent performance improvements were similar across genotype groups, but with increased variability in the AA group. CC participants showed increased slow-wave and spindle amplitudes, plus augmented coupling of slow-wave activity across recording electrodes after learning. Slow-waves and spindles in those with the AA genotype were insensitive to learning, whilst slow-wave coherence decreased following MST training.
Conclusion We describe evidence that rs1344706 polymorphism in ZNF804A is associated with changes in experience- and sleep-dependent, local and distributed neural network activity that supports offline information processing during sleep in a healthy population. These findings highlight the utility of sleep neurophysiology in mapping the impacts of SZ-associated variants on neural circuit oscillations and function.