TSPAN5 influences serotonin and kynurenine: pharmacogenomic mechanisms related to alcohol use disorder and acamprosate treatment response

Ming Fen Ho, Cheng Zhang, Lingxin Zhang, Lixuan Wei, Ying Zhou, Irene Moon, Jennifer R. Geske, Doo Sup Choi, Joanna M Biernacka, Mark Frye, Zhexing Wen, Victor M Karpyak, Hu Li, Richard Weinshilboum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We previously reported that SNPs near TSPAN5 were associated with plasma serotonin (5-HT) concentrations which were themselves associated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor treatment outcomes in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD). TSPAN5 SNPs were also associated with alcohol consumption and alcohol use disorder (AUD) risk. The present study was designed to explore the biological function of TSPAN5 with a focus on 5-HT and kynurenine concentrations in the tryptophan pathway. Ethanol treatment resulted in decreased 5-HT concentrations in human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived neuron culture media, and the downregulation of gene expression of TSPAN5, DDC, MAOA, MAOB, TPH1, and TPH2 in those cells. Strikingly, similar observations were made when the cells were treated with acamprosate—an FDA approved drug for AUD therapy. These results were replicated in iPSC-derived astrocytes. Furthermore, TSPAN5 interacted physically with proteins related to clathrin and other vesicle-related proteins, raising the possibility that TSPAN5 might play a role in vesicular function in addition to regulating expression of genes associated with 5-HT biosynthesis and metabolism. Downregulation of TSPAN5 expression by ethanol or acamprosate treatment was also associated with decreased concentrations of kynurenine, a major metabolite of tryptophan that plays a role in neuroinflammation. Knockdown of TSPAN5 also influenced the expression of genes associated with interferon signaling pathways. Finally, we determined that TSPAN5 SNPs were associated with acamprosate treatment outcomes in AUD patients. In conclusion, TSPAN5 can modulate the concentrations of 5-HT and kynurenine. Our data also highlight a potentially novel pharmacogenomic mechanism related to response to acamprosate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMolecular Psychiatry
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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