Open Access Research

FMR1, circadian genes and depression: suggestive associations or false discovery?

Daniel F Kripke12*, Caroline M Nievergelt1, Gregory J Tranah3, Sarah S Murray45, Katharine M Rex1, Alexandra P Grizas2, Elizabeth K Hahn6, Heon-Jeong Lee7, John R Kelsoe189 and Lawrence E Kline2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0603, USA

2 Scripps Clinic Viterbi Family Sleep Center, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA

3 California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, 94107, USA

4 Scripps Translational Science Institute, The Scripps Research Institute and Scripps Health, La Jolla, CA, USA

5 Current address: Department of Pathology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, 92093, USA

6 CTICU, Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles, CA, 90029, USA

7 Department of Psychiatry, Korea University College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea

8 Department of Psychiatry, VA San Diego Healthcare System, San Diego, CA, 92161, USA

9 Institute of Genomic Medicine, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, 92093, USA

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Journal of Circadian Rhythms 2013, 11:3  doi:10.1186/1740-3391-11-3

Published: 23 March 2013



There are several indications that malfunctions of the circadian clock contribute to depression. To search for particular circadian gene polymorphisms associated with depression, diverse polymorphisms were genotyped in two samples covering a range of depressed volunteers and participants with normal mood.


Depression mood self-ratings and DNA were collected independently from a sample of patients presenting to a sleep disorders center (1086 of European origin) and from a separate sample consisting of 399 participants claiming delayed sleep phase symptoms and 406 partly-matched controls. A custom Illumina Golden Gate array of 768 selected single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) was assayed in both samples, supplemented by additional SNPlex and Taqman assays, including assay of 41 ancestry-associated markers (AIMs) to control stratification.


In the Sleep Clinic sample, these assays yielded Bonferroni-significant association with depressed mood in three linked SNPs of the gene FMR1: rs25702 (nominal P=1.77E-05), rs25714 (P=1.83E-05), and rs28900 (P=5.24E-05). This FMR1 association was supported by 8 SNPs with nominal significance and a nominally-significant gene-wise set test. There was no association of depressed mood with FMR1 in the delayed sleep phase case–control sample or in downloaded GWAS data from the GenRED 2 sample contrasting an early-onset recurrent depression sample with controls. No replication was located in other GWAS studies of depression. Our data did weakly replicate a previously-reported association of depression with PPARGC1B rs7732671 (P=0.0235). Suggestive associations not meeting strict criteria for multiple testing and replication were found with GSK3B, NPAS2, RORA, PER3, CRY1, MTNR1A and NR1D1. Notably, 16 SNPs nominally associated with depressed mood (14 in GSK3B) were also nominally associated with delayed sleep phase syndrome (P=3E10-6).


Considering the inconsistencies between samples and the likelihood that the significant three FMR1 SNPs might be linked to complex polymorphisms more functionally related to depression, large gene resequencing studies may be needed to clarify the import for depression of these circadian genes.

Circadian; Depression; DSPS; FMR1; PPARGC1B; GSK3B; NR1D1; rs25702; rs28900; rs7732671