The genetic architecture of autism spectrum disorder involves the interplay of common and rare variants and their impact on hundreds of genes. Using exome sequencing, here we show that analysis of rare coding variation in 3,871 autism cases and 9,937 ancestry-matched or parental controls implicates 22 autosomal genes at a false discovery rate (FDR) < 0.05, plus a set of 107 autosomal genes strongly enriched for those likely to affect risk (FDR < 0.30). These 107 genes, which show unusual evolutionary constraint against mutations, incur de novo loss-of-function mutations in over 5% of autistic subjects. Many of the genes implicated encode proteins for synaptic formation, transcriptional regulation and chromatin-remodelling pathways. These include voltage-gated ion channels regulating the propagation of action potentials, pacemaking and excitability-transcription coupling, as well as histone-modifying enzymes and chromatin remodellers-most prominently those that mediate post-translational lysine methylation/demethylation modifications of histones.
The genetic architecture of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is complex. Common genetic variation has especially been related to high-functioning ASD. In addition, some studies favoured analysis of strictly diagnosed autism individuals, which resulted in more robust findings than the combined analysis of all spectrum individuals. Functional variants modulating EIF4E expression have previously been indicated as risk factors for ASD. Pharmacological modulation of glutamate receptors which regulate EIF4E activity resulted in reduced repetitive behaviours in human and animal studies. Based on these findings, we tested common EIF4E variants for association with overall ASD, with strict autism and with the strict high-functioning autism (strict HFA) subgroup, and their effect on repetitive and/or stereotypic behaviour. We observed over-transmission of rs13109000G in the strict HFA and the strict autism cohort but not in the larger ASD cohort. We report protective effects for the minor allele of rs4699369T on stereotyped and ritualized behaviour in the overall ASD cohort, the strict autism but not in the strict HFA group. In addition, a protective role for rs4699369T and a risk effect of rs12498533G on hand and finger mannerisms was observed. These results need to be replicated in larger ASD and strict autism samples. The predicted impact on transcription through the ASD associated EIF4E variants rs4699369T and rs12498533G as well as the association of the EIF4E interaction partners FMRP and CYFIP1 with ASD point to an mRNA mediated pathomechanism for ASD.
Rare copy-number variation (CNV) is an important source of risk for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). We analyzed 2,446 ASD-affected families and confirmed an excess of genic deletions and duplications in affected versus control groups (1.41-fold, p = 1.0 × 10(-5)) and an increase in affected subjects carrying exonic pathogenic CNVs overlapping known loci associated with dominant or X-linked ASD and intellectual disability (odds ratio = 12.62, p = 2.7 × 10(-15), ?3% of ASD subjects). Pathogenic CNVs, often showing variable expressivity, included rare de novo and inherited events at 36 loci, implicating ASD-associated genes (CHD2, HDAC4, and GDI1) previously linked to other neurodevelopmental disorders, as well as other genes such as SETD5, MIR137, and HDAC9. Consistent with hypothesized gender-specific modulators, females with ASD were more likely to have highly penetrant CNVs (p = 0.017) and were also overrepresented among subjects with fragile X syndrome protein targets (p = 0.02). Genes affected by de novo CNVs and/or loss-of-function single-nucleotide variants converged on networks related to neuronal signaling and development, synapse function, and chromatin regulation.
Known genetic variants can account for 10% to 20% of all cases with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Overlapping cellular pathomechanisms common to neurons of the central nervous system (CNS) and in tissues of peripheral organs, such as immune dysregulation, oxidative stress and dysfunctions in mitochondrial and protein synthesis metabolism, were suggested to support the wide spectrum of ASD on unifying disease phenotype. Here, we studied in patient-derived lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs) how an ASD-specific mutation in ribosomal protein RPL10 (RPL10[H213Q]) generates a distinct protein signature. We compared the RPL10[H213Q] expression pattern to expression patterns derived from unrelated ASD patients without RPL10[H213Q] mutation. In addition, a yeast rpl10 deficiency model served in a proof-of-principle study to test for alterations in protein patterns in response to oxidative stress.
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are heterogeneous disorders with a high heritability and complex genetic architecture. Due to the central role of the fragile X mental retardation gene 1 protein (FMRP) pathway in ASD we investigated common functional variants of ASD risk genes regulating FMRP. We genotyped ten SNPs in two German patient sets (N = 192 and N = 254 families, respectively) and report association for rs7170637 (CYFIP1; set 1 and combined sets), rs6923492 (GRM1; combined sets), and rs25925 (CAMK4; combined sets). An additional risk score based on variants with an odds ratio (OR) >1.25 in set 1 and weighted by their respective log transmitted/untransmitted ratio revealed a significant effect (OR 1.30, 95 % CI 1.11-1.53; P = 0.0013) in the combined German sample. A subsequent meta-analysis including the two German samples, the "Strict/European" ASD subsample of the Autism Genome Project (1,466 families) and a French case/control (541/366) cohort showed again association of rs7170637-A (OR 0.85, 95 % CI 0.75-0.96; P = 0.007) and rs25925-G (OR 1.31, 95 % CI 1.04-1.64; P = 0.021) with ASD. Functional analyses revealed that these minor alleles predicted to alter splicing factor binding sites significantly increase levels of an alternative mRNA isoform of the respective gene while keeping the overall expression of the gene constant. These findings underpin the role of ASD candidate genes in postsynaptic FMRP regulation suggesting that an imbalance of specific isoforms of CYFIP1, an FMRP interaction partner, and CAMK4, a transcriptional regulator of the FMRP gene, modulates ASD risk. Both gene products are related to neuronal regulation of synaptic plasticity, a pathomechanism underlying ASD and may thus present future targets for pharmacological therapies in ASD.
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are neurodevelopmental disorders with early onset in childhood. Most of the risk for ASD can be explained by genetic variants that act in interaction with biological environmental risk factors. However, the architecture of the genetic components is still unclear. Genetic studies and subsequent systems biological approaches described converging functional effects of identified genes towards pathways relevant for neuronal signalling. Mouse models suggest an aberrant synaptic plasticity at the neuropathological level, which is believed to be conferred by dysregulation of long-term potentiation or depression of neuronal connections. A central pathway regulating these mechanisms is glutamatergic signalling. Here, we hypothesized that susceptibility genes for ASD are enriched for components of this pathway. To further understand the impact of ASD risk genes on the glutamatergic pathway, we performed a systematic review using the literature database "pubmed" and the "AutismKB" knowledgebase. We provide an overview of the glutamatergic system in typical brain function and development, and summarize findings from linkage, association, copy number variants, and sequencing studies in ASD to provide a comprehensive picture of the glutamatergic landscape of ASD genetics. Genetic variants associated with ASD were enriched in glutamatergic pathways, affecting receptor signalling, metabolism and transport. Furthermore, in genetically modified mouse models for ASD, pharmacological compounds acting on ionotropic or metabotropic receptor activity are able to rescue ASD reminscent phenotypes. We conclude that glutamatergic genetic risk factors for ASD show a complex pattern and further studies are needed to fully understand its mechanisms, before translation of findings into clinical applications and individualized treatment approaches will be possible.
The Autism Genome Project (AGP) Consortium recently reported genome-wide significant association between autism and an intronic single nucleotide polymorphism marker, rs4141463, within the MACROD2 gene. In the present study we attempted to replicate this finding using an independent case-control design of 1,170 cases with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) (874 of which fulfilled narrow criteria for Autism (A)) from five centers within Europe (UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, and Iceland), and 35,307 controls. The combined sample size gave us a non-centrality parameter (NCP) of 11.9, with 93% power to detect allelic association of rs4141463 at an alpha of 0.05 with odds ratio of 0.84 (the best odds ratio estimate of the AGP Consortium data), and for the narrow diagnosis of autism, an NCP of 8.9 and power of 85%. Our case-control data were analyzed for association, stratified by each center, and the summary statistics were combined using the meta-analysis program, GWAMA. This resulted in an odds ratio (OR) of 1.03 (95% CI 0.944-1.133), with a P-value of 0.5 for ASD and OR of 0.99 (95% CI 0.88-1.11) with P-value = 0.85 for the Autism (A) sub-group. Therefore, this study does not provide support for the reported association between rs4141463 and autism.
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are severe neurodevelopmental disorders with marked deficits in social communication, verbal development, and behaviour. The broad phenotype and the clinical heterogeneity point to a polygenic disorder - despite high heritability among siblings. According to recent findings not only do single-rare mutations but also copy number variations and single nucleotide polymorphisms impact the ASD phenotype. Because of the scope of national and international consortia, many linkage and genome-wide association studies have evolved which elucidate candidate and susceptibility genomic regions and genes relevant for ASD. In contrast to polygenic or genetic complex models for autism, a few monogenetic forms of ASD are known to be caused by single gene defects, e.g., fragile-X syndrome. Knock-out animal models of monogenetic autism (e.g. FMRP(-/-)) or neurodegenerative disorders (e.g. MeCP2(-/-)) are often used to analyze the molecular mechanisms underlying ASD. In this review we describe the state of the art of genome analyses in ASD, the most widely used mouse models for polygenic or monogenetic forms of autism and discuss new insights gained from these analyses. The susceptibility genes so far identified seem to be involved in the proper establishment of the synaptic cleft, the secretion of surface proteins, or the overall cellular translation processes. Theses findings suggest that impacting translation-dependent processes like synaptic plasticity or cell-to-cell connectivity may lead to an ASD phenotype.
Studies of skin aging are usually performed at the genomic level by investigating differentially regulated genes identified through subtractive hybridization or microarray analyses. In contrast, relatively few studies have investigated changes in protein expression of aged skin using proteomic profiling by two-dimensional (2-D) gel electrophoresis and mass spectrometry, although this approach at the protein level is suggested to reflect more accurately the aging phenotype. We undertook such a proteomic analysis of intrinsic human skin aging by quantifying proteins extracted and fluorescently labeled from sun-protected human foreskin samples pooled from young and old men. In addition, we analyzed these candidate gene products by 1-D and 2-D western blotting to obtain corroborative protein expression data, and by both real-time PCR (RT-PCR) and microarray analyses to confirm expression at the mRNA level. We discovered 30 putative proteins for skin aging, including previously unrecognized, post-translationally regulated candidates such as phosphatidyl-ethanolamine binding protein (PEBP) and carbonic anhydrase 1 (CA1).
Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are characterized by social, communication, and behavioral deficits and complex genetic etiology. A recent study of 517 ASD families implicated DOCK4 by single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) association and a microdeletion in an affected sibling pair.
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are a heterogeneous group of neurodevelopmental disorders with a complex inheritance pattern. While many rare variants in synaptic proteins have been identified in patients with ASD, little is known about their effects at the synapse and their interactions with other genetic variations. Here, following the discovery of two de novo SHANK2 deletions by the Autism Genome Project, we identified a novel 421 kb de novo SHANK2 deletion in a patient with autism. We then sequenced SHANK2 in 455 patients with ASD and 431 controls and integrated these results with those reported by Berkel et al. 2010 (n?=?396 patients and n?=?659 controls). We observed a significant enrichment of variants affecting conserved amino acids in 29 of 851 (3.4%) patients and in 16 of 1,090 (1.5%) controls (P?=?0.004, OR?=?2.37, 95% CI?=?1.23-4.70). In neuronal cell cultures, the variants identified in patients were associated with a reduced synaptic density at dendrites compared to the variants only detected in controls (P?=?0.0013). Interestingly, the three patients with de novo SHANK2 deletions also carried inherited CNVs at 15q11-q13 previously associated with neuropsychiatric disorders. In two cases, the nicotinic receptor CHRNA7 was duplicated and in one case the synaptic translation repressor CYFIP1 was deleted. These results strengthen the role of synaptic gene dysfunction in ASD but also highlight the presence of putative modifier genes, which is in keeping with the "multiple hit model" for ASD. A better knowledge of these genetic interactions will be necessary to understand the complex inheritance pattern of ASD.
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