Inappropriate aggression in humans hurts the society, families and individuals. The genetic basis for aggressive behavior, however, remains largely elusive. In this study, we identified two rare missense variants in X-linked GRIA3 from male patients who showed syndromes featuring aggressive outbursts. Both G630R and E787G mutations in AMPA receptor GluA3 completely lost their ion channel functions. Furthermore, a guanine-repeat single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP, rs3216834) located in the first intron of human GRIA3 gene was found to regulate GluA3 expression with longer guanine repeats (rs3216834-10G/-11G) suppressing transcription compared to the shorter ones (-7G/-8G/-9G). Importantly, the distribution of rs3216834-10G/-11G was elevated in a male violent criminal sample from Chinese Han population. Using GluA3 knockout mice, we showed that the excitatory neurotransmission and neuronal activity in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) was impaired. Expressing GluA3 back into the mPFC alleviated the aggressive behavior of GluA3 knockout mice, suggesting that the defects in mPFC explained, at least partially, the neural mechanisms underlying the aggressive behavior. Therefore, our study provides compelling evidence that dysfunction of AMPA receptor GluA3 promotes aggressive behavior.
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