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NPAS3 or Neuronal PAS domain protein 3 is a brain-enriched transcription factor belonging to the bHLH-PAS superfamily of transcription factors, the members of which carry out diverse functions, including circadian oscillations, neurogenesis, toxin metabolism, hypoxia, and tracheal development. NPAS3 contains basic helix-loop-helix structural motif and PAS domain, like the other proteins in the superfamily.


NPAS3 is also known as human accelerated region 21. It may, therefore, have played a key role in differentiating humans from apes.[1]

NPAS1 and NPAS3-deficient mice display behavioral abnormalities typical to the animal models of schizophrenia.[2]

According to the same study, NPAS1 and NPAS3 disruption leads to reduced expression of reelin, which is also consistently found to be reduced in the brains of human patients with schizophrenia and psychotic bipolar disorder. Among the 49 genomic regions that undergone rapid changes in humans compared with their evolutionary ancestors, NPAS3 was found to be located in the region 21.[1]

Clinical significance

Disruption of NPAS3 was found in one family affected by schizophrenia[3] and NPAS3 gene is thought to be associated with psychiatric illness and learning disability.[4][5] In a genetic study of several hundred subjects conducted in 2008, interacting haplotypes at the NPAS3 locus were found to affect the risk of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.[6]

In a pharmacogenetical study, polymorphisms in NPAS3 gene were highly associated with response to iloperidone, a proposed atypical antipsychotic.[7]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Pollard KS, Salama SR, Lambert N, Lambot MA, Coppens S, Pedersen JS, Katzman S, King B, Onodera C, Siepel A, Kern AD, Dehay C, Igel H, Ares M, Vanderhaeghen P, Haussler D (Sep 2006). "An RNA gene expressed during cortical development evolved rapidly in humans". Nature. 443 (7108): 167–72. doi:10.1038/nature05113. PMID 16915236.
  2. Erbel-Sieler C, Dudley C, Zhou Y, Wu X, Estill SJ, Han T, Diaz-Arrastia R, Brunskill EW, Potter SS, McKnight SL (Sep 2004). "Behavioral and regulatory abnormalities in mice deficient in the NPAS1 and NPAS3 transcription factors". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 101 (37): 13648–53. doi:10.1073/pnas.0405310101. PMC 518807. PMID 15347806.
  3. Kamnasaran D, Muir WJ, Ferguson-Smith MA, Cox DW (May 2003). "Disruption of the neuronal PAS3 gene in a family affected with schizophrenia". Journal of Medical Genetics. 40 (5): 325–32. doi:10.1136/jmg.40.5.325. PMC 1735455. PMID 12746393.
  4. Pickard BS, Malloy MP, Porteous DJ, Blackwood DH, Muir WJ (Jul 2005). "Disruption of a brain transcription factor, NPAS3, is associated with schizophrenia and learning disability". American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B. 136B (1): 26–32. doi:10.1002/ajmg.b.30204. PMID 15924306.
  5. Pickard BS, Pieper AA, Porteous DJ, Blackwood DH, Muir WJ (2006). "The NPAS3 gene--emerging evidence for a role in psychiatric illness". Annals of Medicine. 38 (6): 439–48. doi:10.1080/07853890600946500. PMID 17008307.
  6. Pickard BS, Christoforou A, Thomson PA, Fawkes A, Evans KL, Morris SW, Porteous DJ, Blackwood DH, Muir WJ (Sep 2009). "Interacting haplotypes at the NPAS3 locus alter risk of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder". Molecular Psychiatry. 14 (9): 874–84. doi:10.1038/mp.2008.24. PMID 18317462.
  7. Lavedan C, Volpi S, Mack K, et al. Whole-genome association study identifies polymorphisms in the NPAS3 gene associated with super-response to iloperidone treatment in patients with schizophrenia. Program and abstracts of the 57th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics; October 23–27, 2007; San Diego, California. Abstract 1035/T

Further reading