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Open Access Research

Variation in regulator of G-protein signaling 17 gene (RGS17) is associated with multiple substance dependence diagnoses

Huiping Zhang14*, Fan Wang14, Henry R Kranzler5, Raymond F Anton6 and Joel Gelernter1234

Author Affiliations

1 Departments of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA

2 Departments of Genetics, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA

3 Departments of Neurobiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA

4 VA Connecticut Healthcare System, West Haven, CT, USA

5 Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and VISN4 MIRECC, Philadelphia VAMC, Philadelphia, PA, USA

6 Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA

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Behavioral and Brain Functions 2012, 8:23  doi:10.1186/1744-9081-8-23

Published: 16 May 2012



RGS17 and RGS20 encode two members of the regulator of G-protein signaling RGS-Rz subfamily. Variation in these genes may alter their transcription and thereby influence the function of G protein-coupled receptors, including opioid receptors, and modify risk for substance dependence.


The association of 13 RGS17 and eight RGS20 tag single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) was examined with four substance dependence diagnoses (alcohol (AD), cocaine (CD), opioid (OD) or marijuana (MjD)] in 1,905 African Americans (AAs: 1,562 cases and 343 controls) and 1,332 European Americans (EAs: 981 cases and 351 controls). Analyses were performed using both χ2 tests and logistic regression analyses that covaried sex, age, and ancestry proportion. Correlation of genotypes and mRNA expression levels was assessed by linear regression analyses.


Seven RGS17 SNPs showed a significant association with at least one of the four dependence traits after a permutation-based correction for multiple testing (0.003≤Pempirical≤0.037). The G allele of SNP rs596359, in the RGS17 promoter region, was associated with AD, CD, OD, or MjD in both populations (0.005≤Pempirical≤0.019). This allele was also associated with significantly lower mRNA expression levels of RGS17 in YRI subjects (P = 0.002) and non-significantly lower mRNA expression levels of RGS17 in CEU subjects (P = 0.185). No RGS20 SNPs were associated with any of the four dependence traits in either population.


This study demonstrated that variation in RGS17 was associated with risk for substance dependence diagnoses in both AA and EA populations.

RGS17 and RGS20; Multiple substance dependence; Genetic association; Haplotype analysis; Regression analysis; Genotype-expression relationship