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  • 1
    Abstract: Autism is a common neurodevelopmental disorder with a complex mode of inheritance. It is one of the most highly heritable of the complex disorders, although the underlying genetic factors remain largely unknown. Here, we report mutations in the X-chromosome PTCHD1 (patched-related) gene in seven families with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and in three families with intellectual disability. A 167-kilobase microdeletion spanning exon 1 was found in two brothers, one with ASD and the other with a learning disability and ASD features; a 90-kilobase microdeletion spanning the entire gene was found in three males with intellectual disability in a second family. In 900 probands with ASD and 208 male probands with intellectual disability, we identified seven different missense changes (in eight male probands) that were inherited from unaffected mothers and not found in controls. Two of the ASD individuals with missense changes also carried a de novo deletion at another ASD susceptibility locus (DPYD and DPP6), suggesting complex genetic contributions. In additional males with ASD, we identified deletions in the 5 flanking region of PTCHD1 that disrupted a complex noncoding RNA and potential regulatory elements; equivalent changes were not found in male control individuals. Thus, our systematic screen of PTCHD1 and its 5 flanking regions suggests that this locus is involved in 1% of individuals with ASD and intellectual disability.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 20844286
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  • 2
    Keywords: EXPRESSION ; POPULATION ; RISK ; GENE ; POLYMORPHISMS ; SCHIZOPHRENIA ; COPY NUMBER ; SNP ; NEURONS ; MENTAL-RETARDATION ; GENOME-WIDE ASSOCIATION ; GLUTAMATE-RECEPTOR-6 GENE ; LINKAGE ANALYSES ; RUNS
    Abstract: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a highly heritable disorder of complex and heterogeneous aetiology. It is primarily characterized by altered cognitive ability including impaired language and communication skills and fundamental deficits in social reciprocity. Despite some notable successes in neuropsychiatric genetics, overall, the high heritability of ASD (round 90%) remains poorly explained by common genetic risk variants. However, recent studies suggest that rare genomic variation, in particular copy number variation, may account for a significant proportion of the genetic basis of ASD. We present a large scale analysis to identify candidate genes which may contain low-frequency recessive variation contributing to ASD while taking into account the potential contribution of population differences to the genetic heterogeneity of ASD. Our strategy, homozygous haplotype (HH) mapping, aims to detect homozygous segments of identical haplotype structure that are shared at a higher frequency amongst ASD patients compared to parental controls. The analysis was performed on 1,402 Autism Genome Project trios genotyped for 1 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). We identified 25 known and 1,218 novel ASD candidate genes in the discovery analysis including CADM2, ABHD14A, CHRFAM7A, GRIK2, GRM3, EPHA3, FGF10, KCND2, PDZK1, IMMP2L and FOXP2. Furthermore, 10 of the previously reported ASD genes and 300 of the novel candidates identified in the discovery analysis were replicated in an independent sample of 1,182 trios. Our results demonstrate that regions of HH are significantly enriched for previously reported ASD candidate genes and the observed association is independent of gene size (odds ratio 2.10). Our findings highlight the applicability of HH mapping in complex disorders such as ASD and offer an alternative approach to the analysis of genome-wide association data.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 21996756
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  • 3
    Keywords: RISK ; GENOME ; validation ; IDENTIFICATION ; INDIVIDUALS ; SCALE ; SPECTRUM DISORDERS ; Copy number variation ; DE-NOVO MUTATIONS ; COMMUNICATION CHECKLIST
    Abstract: BACKGROUND: There is an urgent need for expanding and enhancing autism spectrum disorder (ASD) samples, in order to better understand causes of ASD. METHODS: In a unique public-private partnership, 13 sites with extensive experience in both the assessment and diagnosis of ASD embarked on an ambitious, 2-year program to collect samples for genetic and phenotypic research and begin analyses on these samples. The program was called The Autism Simplex Collection (TASC). TASC sample collection began in 2008 and was completed in 2010, and included nine sites from North America and four sites from Western Europe, as well as a centralized Data Coordinating Center. RESULTS: Over 1,700 trios are part of this collection, with DNA from transformed cells now available through the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R) and Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-Generic (ADOS-G) measures are available for all probands, as are standardized IQ measures, Vineland Adaptive Behavioral Scales (VABS), the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS), Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT), and physical measures (height, weight, and head circumference). At almost every site, additional phenotypic measures were collected, including the Broad Autism Phenotype Questionnaire (BAPQ) and Repetitive Behavior Scale-Revised (RBS-R), as well as the non-word repetition scale, Communication Checklist (Children's or Adult), and Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC). Moreover, for nearly 1,000 trios, the Autism Genome Project Consortium (AGP) has carried out Illumina 1 M SNP genotyping and called copy number variation (CNV) in the samples, with data being made available through the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Whole exome sequencing (WES) has been carried out in over 500 probands, together with ancestry matched controls, and this data is also available through the NIH. Additional WES is being carried out by the Autism Sequencing Consortium (ASC), where the focus is on sequencing complete trios. ASC sequencing for the first 1,000 samples (all from whole-blood DNA) is complete and data will be released in 2014. Data is being made available through NIH databases (database of Genotypes and Phenotypes (dbGaP) and National Database for Autism Research (NDAR)) with DNA released in Dist 11.0. Primary funding for the collection, genotyping, sequencing and distribution of TASC samples was provided by Autism Speaks and the NIH, including the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the National Human Genetics Research Institute (NHGRI). CONCLUSIONS: TASC represents an important sample set that leverages expert sites. Similar approaches, leveraging expert sites and ongoing studies, represent an important path towards further enhancing available ASD samples.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 25392729
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  • 4
    Keywords: CANCER ; CELLS ; DISEASE ; DISTINCT ; GENE-EXPRESSION ; MESSENGER-RNA ; alternative splicing ; WNT ; BRAIN-TUMORS ; medulloblastoma ; molecular diagnostics ; SUBGROUPS ; pediatric cancer ; BIOLOGICAL NETWORKS ; SHH ; Molecular subgroup ; Group 3 ; Group 4 ; BETA-2-CHIMAERIN ; Neuronal development
    Abstract: Medulloblastoma comprises four distinct molecular variants: WNT, SHH, Group 3, and Group 4. We analyzed alternative splicing usage in 14 normal cerebellar samples and 103 medulloblastomas of known subgroup. Medulloblastoma samples have a statistically significant increase in alternative splicing as compared to normal fetal cerebella (2.3-times; P 〈 6.47E-8). Splicing patterns are distinct and specific between molecular subgroups. Unsupervised hierarchical clustering of alternative splicing events accurately assigns medulloblastomas to their correct subgroup. Subgroup-specific splicing and alternative promoter usage was most prevalent in Group 3 (19.4%) and SHH (16.2%) medulloblastomas, while observed less frequently in WNT (3.2%), and Group 4 (9.3%) tumors. Functional annotation of alternatively spliced genes reveals overrepresentation of genes important for neuronal development. Alternative splicing events in medulloblastoma may be regulated in part by the correlative expression of antisense transcripts, suggesting a possible mechanism affecting subgroup-specific alternative splicing. Our results identify additional candidate markers for medulloblastoma subgroup affiliation, further support the existence of distinct subgroups of the disease, and demonstrate an additional level of transcriptional heterogeneity between medulloblastoma subgroups.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 22358458
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  • 5
    Keywords: GENE ; DELETIONS ; MENTAL-RETARDATION ; LOCI ; GENOME-WIDE ASSOCIATION ; CNTNAP2 ; Copy number variation ; DE-NOVO MUTATIONS ; LINKAGE ANALYSES ; DEVELOPMENTAL DISORDERS
    Abstract: While it is apparent that rare variation can play an important role in the genetic architecture of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), the contribution of common variation to the risk of developing ASD is less clear. To produce a more comprehensive picture, we report Stage 2 of the Autism Genome Project genome-wide association study, adding 1301 ASD families and bringing the total to 2705 families analysed (Stages 1 and 2). In addition to evaluating the association of individual single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), we also sought evidence that common variants, en masse, might affect the risk. Despite genotyping over a million SNPs covering the genome, no single SNP shows significant association with ASD or selected phenotypes at a genome-wide level. The SNP that achieves the smallest P-value from secondary analyses is rs1718101. It falls in CNTNAP2, a gene previously implicated in susceptibility for ASD. This SNP also shows modest association with age of word/phrase acquisition in ASD subjects, of interest because features of language development are also associated with other variation in CNTNAP2. In contrast, allele scores derived from the transmission of common alleles to Stage 1 cases significantly predict case status in the independent Stage 2 sample. Despite being significant, the variance explained by these allele scores was small (Vm〈 1%). Based on results from individual SNPs and their en masse effect on risk, as inferred from the allele score results, it is reasonable to conclude that common variants affect the risk for ASD but their individual effects are modest.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 22843504
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  • 6
    Keywords: POOR-PROGNOSIS ; BRAIN-TUMORS ; CHILDHOOD MEDULLOBLASTOMA ; RISK STRATIFICATION ; outcome prediction ; TP53 MUTATIONS ; PATHWAY ACTIVATION ; MOLECULAR SUBGROUPS ; NEUROTROPHIN RECEPTOR TRKC ; MYCN AMPLIFICATION
    Abstract: Purpose Medulloblastoma comprises four distinct molecular subgroups: WNT, SHH, Group 3, and Group 4. Current medulloblastoma protocols stratify patients based on clinical features: patient age, metastatic stage, extent of resection, and histologic variant. Stark prognostic and genetic differences among the four subgroups suggest that subgroup-specific molecular biomarkers could improve patient prognostication. Patients and Methods Molecular biomarkers were identified from a discovery set of 673 medulloblastomas from 43 cities around the world. Combined risk stratification models were designed based on clinical and cytogenetic biomarkers identified by multivariable Cox proportional hazards analyses. Identified biomarkers were tested using fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) on a nonoverlapping medulloblastoma tissue microarray (n = 453), with subsequent validation of the risk stratification models. Results Subgroup information improves the predictive accuracy of a multivariable survival model compared with clinical biomarkers alone. Most previously published cytogenetic biomarkers are only prognostic within a single medulloblastoma subgroup. Profiling six FISH biomarkers (GLI2, MYC, chromosome 11 [chr11], chr14, 17p, and 17q) on formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissues, we can reliably and reproducibly identify very low-risk and very high-risk patients within SHH, Group 3, and Group 4 medulloblastomas. Conclusion Combining subgroup and cytogenetic biomarkers with established clinical biomarkers substantially improves patient prognostication, even in the context of heterogeneous clinical therapies. The prognostic significance of most molecular biomarkers is restricted to a specific subgroup. We have identified a small panel of cytogenetic biomarkers that reliably identifies very high-risk and very low-risk groups of patients, making it an excellent tool for selecting patients for therapy intensification and therapy de-escalation in future clinical trials.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
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  • 7
    Keywords: RISK ; DELETIONS ; GENOME-WIDE ASSOCIATION ; DUPLICATIONS ; STRUCTURAL VARIATION ; COPY NUMBER VARIANTS ; FRAGILE-X-SYNDROME ; DE-NOVO MUTATIONS ; INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY ; PHENOTYPE ONTOLOGY
    Abstract: 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 x 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 x 10(-15), approximately 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.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 24768552
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  • 8
    Keywords: EXPRESSION ; NETWORK ; RISK ; DISCOVERY ; SCHIZOPHRENIA ; FRAMEWORK ; COPY-NUMBER VARIATION ; SPECTRUM DISORDERS ; DE-NOVO MUTATIONS ; NEURODEVELOPMENTAL DISORDERS
    Abstract: 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.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 25363760
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  • 9
    Abstract: Recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have implicated a range of genes from discrete biological pathways in the aetiology of autism. However, despite the strong influence of genetic factors, association studies have yet to identify statistically robust, replicated major effect genes or SNPs. We apply the principle of the SNP ratio test methodology described by O'Dushlaine et al to over 2100 families from the Autism Genome Project (AGP). Using a two-stage design we examine association enrichment in 5955 unique gene-ontology classifications across four groupings based on two phenotypic and two ancestral classifications. Based on estimates from simulation we identify excess of association enrichment across all analyses. We observe enrichment in association for sets of genes involved in diverse biological processes, including pyruvate metabolism, transcription factor activation, cell-signalling and cell-cycle regulation. Both genes and processes that show enrichment have previously been examined in autistic disorders and offer biologically plausibility to these findings.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 21522181
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  • 10
    Keywords: MODEL ; GENE ; DELETION ; MUTATIONS ; PSYCHIATRIC-DISORDERS ; MENTAL-RETARDATION ; COPY-NUMBER VARIATION ; HIDDEN-MARKOV MODEL ; SNP GENOTYPING DATA ; 15Q13.3 MICRODELETIONS ; DE-NOVO MUTATIONS ; POSTSYNAPTIC DENSITY ; RECURRENT MICRODELETIONS ; SCAFFOLDING PROTEIN SHANK3
    Abstract: 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.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 22346768
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