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Over 130 genes have been associated with schizophrenia in genetic studies. None of these has reached a sufficient level of confidence to be accepted as a universal susceptibility gene and problems of replicability suggest that many may be false positives. Nevertheless, these genes can be grouped into distinct families related to glutamate transmission (in particular related to NMDA receptor function), the control of synaptic plasticity, dopaminergic transmission, oxidative stress, glutathione and quinone metabolism and oligodendrocyte viability. These families mirror the processes disrupted in the schizophrenic brain and certain gene families can be linked together to form a clearly defined signalling cascade involved in the phenomenon of NMDA receptor-dependent long-term potentiation and synaptic plasticity, that may be interconnected with oligodendrocyte and oxidative stress-related pathways. Many of the protein products of these genes interact with each other, forming complex integrated networks. Certain high-interest genes (for example DISC1, NRG1, COMT) may exert multiple effects on different areas of these pathways, while others exert more specific effects on certain branches. The convergence of a large number of genes on a definable signaling network raises the possibility of numerous interactions between gene candidates, and suggests that a targeted multigenic pathway approach would be useful in gene association studies. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.