The idiopathic epilepsies are genetically heterogeneous with more than 50 clinical classifications. They are characterized by episodic seizures arising from erratic neuronal discharge in susceptible individuals. The most common predisposing genetic cause is the recently discovered chromosome 15q13.3 microdeletion. Other disorders previously attributed to the same lesion include autism, intellectual disability and schizophrenia. This phenotypic spectrum is most easily imagined as a contiguous gene syndrome with idiopathic generalized epilepsy as the most common clinical manifestation. Expressivity of the microdeletion in carriers is too variable for antenatal prediction of phenotype to be possible; however, when it is detected in living affected cases, it can be taken as the major predisposing cause for the observed phenotype. The discovery of this small 15q13.3 lesion barely scratches the surface that conceals what we ultimately need to know about the molecular genetic mechanisms behind the common epilepsies with complex genetics, but it provides valuable insight into how to proceed toward that goal.
We identified 15q13.3 microdeletions encompassing the CHRNA7 gene in 12 of 1,223 individuals with idiopathic generalized epilepsy (IGE), which were not detected in 3,699 controls (joint P = 5.32 × 10−8). Most deletion carriers showed common IGE syndromes without other features previously associated with 15q13.3 microdeletions, such as intellectual disability, autism or schizophrenia. Our results indicate that 15q13.3 microdeletions constitute the most prevalent risk factor for common epilepsies identified to date.
The emergence of array comparative genomic hybridization (array CGH) as a diagnostic tool in molecular genetics has facilitated recognition of microdeletions and microduplications as risk factors for both generalised and focal epilepsies. Furthermore, there is evidence that some microdeletions/duplications, such as the 15q13.3 deletion predispose to a range of neuropsychiatric disorders, including intellectual disability (ID), autism, schizophrenia and epilepsy.
We hypothesised that array CGH would reveal relevant findings in an adult patient group with epilepsy and complex phenotypes.
82 patients (54 from the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery and 28 from King’s College Hospital) with drug-resistant epilepsy and co-morbidities had array CGH. Separate clinicians ordered array CGH and separate platforms were used at the two sites.
In the two independent groups we identified copy number variants judged to be of pathogenic significance in 13.5% (7/52) and 20% (5/25) respectively, noting that slightly different selection criteria were used, giving an overall yield of 15.6%. Sixty-nine variants of unknown significance were also identified in the group from the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery and 5 from the King’s College Hospital patient group.
We conclude that array CGH be considered an important investigation in adults with complicated epilepsy and, at least at present for selected patients, should join the diagnostic repertoire of clinical history and examination, neuroimaging, electroencephalography and other indicated investigations in generating a more complete formulation of an individual’s epilepsy.
► Copy number variants may predispose to a range of neuropsychiatric disorders. ► Array CGH may reveal relevant findings in adults with complex phenotypes. ► Likely pathogenic copy number changes were identified with a yield of 15.6%. ► Array CGH should join the diagnostic repertoire for adults with complex phenotypes.
Array comparative genomic hybridization; Copy number variation; DNA; Epilepsy; Co-morbidity
We examined whether copy number variants (CNVs) were more common in those with a combination of intellectual disability (ID) and genetic generalized epilepsy (GGE) than in those with either phenotype alone via a case-control study.
CNVs contribute to the genetics of multiple neurodevelopmental disorders with complex inheritance, including GGE and ID. Three hundred fifty-nine probands with GGE and 60 probands with ID-GGE were screened for GGE-associated recurrent microdeletions at 15q13.3, 15q11.2, and 16p13.11 via quantitative PCR or loss of heterozygosity. Deletions were confirmed by comparative genomic hybridization (CGH). ID-GGE probands also had genome-wide CGH.
ID-GGE probands showed a significantly higher rate of CNVs compared with probands with GGE alone, with 17 of 60 (28%) ID-GGE probands having one or more potentially causative CNVs. The patients with ID-GGE had a 3-fold-higher rate of the 3 GGE-associated recurrent microdeletions than probands with GGE alone (10% vs 3%, p = 0.02). They also showed a high rate (13/60, 22%) of rare CNVs identified using genome-wide CGH.
This study shows that CNVs are common in those with ID-GGE with recurrent deletions at 15q13.3, 15q11.2, and 16p13.11, particularly enriched compared with individuals with GGE or ID alone. Recurrent CNVs are likely to act as risk factors for multiple phenotypes not just at the population level, but also in any given individual. Testing for CNVs in ID-GGE will have a high diagnostic yield in a clinical setting and will inform genetic counseling.
Microdeletion at chromosomal position 15q13.3 has been described in intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia and recently in idiopathic generalized epilepsy (IGE). Using independent IGE cohorts, we first aimed to confirm the association of 15q13.3 deletions and IGE. We then set out to determine the relative occurrence of sporadic and familial cases and to examine the likelihood of having seizures for individuals with the microdeletion in familial cases. The 15q13.3 microdeletion was identified in 7 of 539 (1.3%) unrelated cases of IGE using quantitative PCR or SNP arrays and confirmed by array comparative genomic hybridization analysis using probes specific to the 15q13.3 region. The inheritance of this lesion was tracked using family studies. Of the seven microdeletions identified in probands, three were de novo, two were transmitted from an unaffected parent and in two cases the parents were unavailable. Non-penetrance of the microdeletion was identified in 4/7 pedigrees and three pedigrees included other family members with IGE who lacked the 15q13.3 deletion. The odds ratio is 68 (95% confidence interval 29–181), indicating a pathogenic lesion predisposing to epilepsy with complex inheritance and incomplete penetrance for the IGE component of the phenotype in multiplex families.
Many copy number variants (CNVs) are documented to be associated with neuropsychiatric disorders, including intellectual disability, autism, epilepsy, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. Chromosomal deletions of 1q21.1, 3q29, 15q13.3, 22q11.2, and NRXN1 and duplications of 15q11-q13 (maternal), 16p11, and 16p13.3 have the strongest association with schizophrenia. We hypothesized that cases with both schizophrenia and epilepsy would have a higher frequency of disease-associated CNVs and would represent an enriched sample for detection of other mutations associated with schizophrenia.
We used array comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) to analyze 235 individuals with both schizophrenia and epilepsy, 80 with bipolar disorder and epilepsy, and 191 controls.
We detected 10 schizophrenia plus epilepsy cases in 235 (4.3%) with the above mentioned CNVs compared to 0 in 191 controls (p = 0.003). Other likely pathological findings in schizophrenia plus epilepsy cases included 1 deletion 16p13 and 1 duplication 7q11.23 for a total of 12/235 (5.1%) while a possibly pathogenic duplication of 22q11.2 was found in one control for a total of 1 in 191 (0.5%) controls (p = 0.008). The rate of abnormality in the schizophrenia plus epilepsy of 10/235 for the more definite CNVs compares to a rate of 75/7336 for these same CNVs in a series of unselected schizophrenia cases (p = 0.0004).
We found a statistically significant increase in the frequency of CNVs known or likely to be associated with schizophrenia in individuals with both schizophrenia and epilepsy compared to controls. We found an overall 5.1% detection rate of likely pathological findings which is the highest frequency of such findings in a series of schizophrenia patients to date. This evidence suggests that the frequency of disease-associated CNVs in patients with both schizophrenia and epilepsy is significantly higher than for unselected schizophrenia.
15q13.3 microdeletions are the most common genetic findings in Idiopathic Generalized Epilepsies identified to date, present in up to 1% of patients. In addition, 15q13.3 microdeletions have been described in patients with epilepsy as part of a complex neurodevelopmental phenotype. We analyzed a cohort of 570 patients with various pediatric epilepsies for 15q13.3 microdeletions. Screening was performed using quantitative polymerase chain reaction, deletions were confirmed by array comparative genomic hybridization. We carried out detailed phenotyping of deletion carriers. In total, we identified four pediatric patients with 15q13.3 microdeletions including one previously described patient. 2/4 deletions were de novo, 1 deletion was inherited from an unaffected parent, and in one patient, inheritance is unknown. All four patients had absence epilepsy with various degrees of intellectual disability. We suggest that absence epilepsy accompanied by intellectual disability may represent a common phenotype of the 15q13.3 microdeletion in pediatric epilepsy patients.
Intellectual disability; IGE
15q13.3 microdeletions are the most common genetic findings identified in idiopathic generalized epilepsies to date, and they are present in up to 1% of patients. In addition, 15q13.3 microdeletions have been described in patients with epilepsy as part of a complex neurodevelopmental phenotype. We analyzed a cohort of 570 patients with various pediatric epilepsies for 15q13.3 microdeletions. Screening was performed using quantitative polymerase chain reaction; deletions were confirmed by array comparative genomic hybridization (CGH). We carried out detailed phenotyping of deletion carriers. In total, we identified four pediatric patients with 15q13.3 microdeletions, including one previously described patient. Two of four deletions were de novo, one deletion was inherited from an unaffected parent, and for one patient the inheritance is unknown. All four patients had absence epilepsy with various degrees of intellectual disability. We suggest that absence epilepsy accompanied by intellectual disability may represent a common phenotype of the 15q13.3 microdeletion in pediatric patients with epilepsy.
Intellectual disability; Idiopathic generalized epilepsy
The pericentromeric region of chromosome 16p is rich in segmental duplications that predispose to rearrangements through non-allelic homologous recombination. Several recurrent copy number variations have been described recently in chromosome 16p. 16p11.2 rearrangements (29.5–30.1 Mb) are associated with autism, intellectual disability and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Another recognizable but less common microdeletion syndrome in 16p11.2p12.2 (21.4 to 28.5–30.1 Mb) has been described in six individuals with intellectual disability, while apparently reciprocal duplications, studied by standard cytogenetic and FISH techniques, have been reported in three patients with autism spectrum disorders. Here we report a multiplex family with three boys affected with autism, including two monozygotic twins carrying a de novo 16p11.2p12.2 duplication of 8.95 Mb (21.28–30.23 Mb) characterized by SNP array, encompassing both the 16p11.2 and 16p11.2p12.2 regions. The twins exhibited autism, severe intellectual disability, and dysmorphic features, including a triangular face, deep-set eyes, large and prominent nasal bridge, and tall, slender build. The eldest brother presented with autism, mild intellectual disability, early onset obesity and normal craniofacial features, and carried a smaller, overlapping 16p11.2 microdeletion of 847 kb (28.40–29.25 Mb), inherited from his apparently healthy father. Recurrent deletions in this region encompassing the SH2B1 gene were recently reported in early onset obesity and in individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders, associated with phenotypic variability. We discuss the clinical and genetic implications of two different 16p chromosomal rearrangements in this family, and suggest that the 16p11.2 deletion in the father predisposed to the formation of the duplication in his twin children.
Abnormalities, Multiple; genetics; Adolescent; Adult; Autistic Disorder; genetics; Chromosomes, Human, Pair 16; genetics; DNA Copy Number Variations; Gene Duplication; Humans; Male; Phenotype; Sequence Deletion; Siblings; Twins, Monozygotic; genetics; duplication 16p11.2p12.2; deletion 16p11.2; autism; intellectual disability; SH2B1; SNP array
The 22q11.2 deletion syndrome is caused by a microdeletion of chromosome 22. One third of all patients with 22q11.2 deletion develop schizophrenia-like symptoms. In general, the prevalence of 22q11.2 deletion in patients with schizophrenia is 1%–2%. The 22q11.2 deletion is one of the major known genetic risk factors for schizophrenia. However, clinical differences in the phenotypes between patients with schizophrenia who are 22q11.2 deletion carriers and those who are not are still unknown. Therefore, it may be difficult to diagnose 22q11.2 deletion in patients with schizophrenia on the basis of clinical symptoms. To date, only two Japanese patients with the deletion have been identified through microdeletion studies of patients with schizophrenia in the Japanese population. Herein, we report the case study of a 48-year-old Japanese woman with 22q11.2 deletion who had a 30-year history of schizophrenia. Based on craniofacial anomalies, unpredictable agitation, hypocalcemia, and brain imaging finding, we suspected the 22q11.2 deletion in clinical populations and diagnosed the deletion using fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis. To find common phenotypes in Japanese patients with the deletion who have schizophrenia-like symptoms, we compared phenotypes among three Japanese cases. The common phenotypes were an absence of congenital cardiovascular anomalies and the presence of current findings of low intellectual ability, agitation, and hypocalcemia. We propose that hypocalcemia and agitation in patients with schizophrenia may derive from the 22q11.2 deletion, particularly when these phenotypes are coupled with schizophrenia-like symptoms.
22q11.2 deletion syndrome; Schizophrenia; Hypocalcemia; Agitation
The pericentromeric region of chromosome 16p is rich in segmental duplications that predispose to rearrangements through non-allelic homologous recombination. Several recurrent copy number variations have been described recently in chromosome 16p. 16p11.2 rearrangements (29.5–30.1 Mb) are associated with autism, intellectual disability (ID) and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Another recognizable but less common microdeletion syndrome in 16p11.2p12.2 (21.4 to 28.5–30.1 Mb) has been described in six individuals with ID, whereas apparently reciprocal duplications, studied by standard cytogenetic and fluorescence in situ hybridization techniques, have been reported in three patients with autism spectrum disorders. Here, we report a multiplex family with three boys affected with autism, including two monozygotic twins carrying a de novo 16p11.2p12.2 duplication of 8.95 Mb (21.28–30.23 Mb) characterized by single-nucleotide polymorphism array, encompassing both the 16p11.2 and 16p11.2p12.2 regions. The twins exhibited autism, severe ID, and dysmorphic features, including a triangular face, deep-set eyes, large and prominent nasal bridge, and tall, slender build. The eldest brother presented with autism, mild ID, early-onset obesity and normal craniofacial features, and carried a smaller, overlapping 16p11.2 microdeletion of 847 kb (28.40–29.25 Mb), inherited from his apparently healthy father. Recurrent deletions in this region encompassing the SH2B1 gene were recently reported in early-onset obesity and in individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders associated with phenotypic variability. We discuss the clinical and genetic implications of two different 16p chromosomal rearrangements in this family, and suggest that the 16p11.2 deletion in the father predisposed to the formation of the duplication in his twin children.
duplication 16p11.2p12.2; deletion 16p11.2; autism; intellectual disability; SH2B1; SNP array
Rare copy number variants (CNVs) play a prominent role in the etiology of schizophrenia and other neuropsychiatric disorders1. Substantial risk for schizophrenia is conferred by large (>500 kb) CNVs at several loci, including microdeletions at 1q21.1 2, 3q29 3, 15q13.3 2 and 22q11.2 4 and microduplication at 16p11.2 5. However, these CNVs collectively account for a small fraction (2-4%) of cases, and the relevant genes and neurobiological mechanisms are not well understood. Here we performed a large two-stage genome-wide scan of rare CNVs and report the significant association of copy number gains at chromosome 7q36.3 with schizophrenia (P= 4.0×10-5, OR = 16.14 [3.06, ∞]). Microduplications with variable breakpoints occurred within a 362 kb region and were detected in 29 of 8,290 (0.35%) patients versus two of 7,431 (0.03%) controls in the combined sample (p-value= 5.7×10-7, odds ratio (OR) = 14.1 [3.5, 123.9]). All duplications overlapped or were located within 89 kb upstream of the vasoactive intestinal peptide receptor VIPR2. VIPR2 transcription and cyclic-AMP signaling were significantly increased in cultured lymphocytes from patients with microduplications of 7q36.3. These findings implicate altered VIP signaling in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia and suggest VIPR2 as a potential target for the development of novel antipsychotic drugs.
Genomic structural changes, such as gene Copy Number Variations (CNVs) are extremely abundant in the human genome. An enormous effort is currently ongoing to recognize and catalogue human CNVs and their associations with abnormal phenotypic outcomes. Recently, several reports related neuropsychiatric diseases (i.e. autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia, mental retardation, behavioral problems, epilepsy) with specific CNV. Moreover, for some conditions, both the deletion and duplication of the same genomic segment are related to the phenotype. Syndromes associated with CNVs (microdeletion and microduplication) have long been known to display specific neurobehavioral traits. It is important to note that not every gene is susceptible to gene dosage changes and there are only a few dosage sensitive genes. Smith-Magenis (SMS) and Potocki-Lupski (PTLS) syndromes are associated with a reciprocal microdeletion and microduplication within chromosome 17p11.2. in humans. The dosage sensitive gene responsible for most phenotypes in SMS has been identified: the Retinoic Acid Induced 1 (RAI1). Studies on mouse models and humans suggest that RAI1 is likely the dosage sensitive gene responsible for clinical features in PTLS. In addition, the human RAI1 gene has been implicated in several neurobehavioral traits as spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA2), schizophrenia and non syndromic autism. In this review we discuss the evidence of RAI1 as a dosage sensitive gene, its relationship with different neurobehavioral traits, gene structure and mutations, and what is known about its molecular and cellular function, as a first step in the elucidation of the mechanisms that relate dosage sensitive genes with abnormal neurobehavioral outcomes.
Copy Number Variation; dosage sensitive gene; neurobehavioral traits; Potocki-Lupski Syndrome; RAI1; Smith-Magenis Syndrome; transcription factor activity.
Abnormalities in functional connectivity between brain areas have been postulated as an important pathophysiological mechanism underlying schizophrenia1,2. In particular, macroscopic measurements of brain activity in patients suggest that functional connectivity between the frontal and temporal lobes may be altered3,4. However, it remains unclear whether such dysconnectivity relates to the aetiology of the illness, and how it is manifested in the activity of neural circuits. Because schizophrenia has a strong genetic component5, animal models of genetic risk factors are likely to aid our understanding of the pathogenesis and pathophysiology of the disease. Here we study Df(16)A+/− mice, which model a microdeletion on human chromosome 22 (22q11.2) that constitutes one of the largest known genetic risk factors for schizophrenia6. To examine functional connectivity in these mice, we measured the synchronization of neural activity between the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex during the performance of a task requiring working memory, which is one of the cognitive functions disrupted in the disease. In wild-type mice, hippocampal–prefrontal synchrony increased during working memory performance, consistent with previous reports in rats7. Df(16)A+/− mice, which are impaired in the acquisition of the task, showed drastically reduced synchrony, measured both by phase-locking of prefrontal cells to hippocampal theta oscillations and by coherence of prefrontal and hippocampal local field potentials. Furthermore, the magnitude of hippocampal–prefrontal coherence at the onset of training could be used to predict the time it took the Df(16)A+/− mice to learn the task and increased more slowly during task acquisition. These data suggest how the deficits in functional connectivity observed in patients with schizophrenia may be realized at the single-neuron level. Our findings further suggest that impaired long-range synchrony of neural activity is one consequence of the 22q11.2 deletion and may be a fundamental component of the pathophysiology underlying schizophrenia.
Over the last fifteen years it has become established that 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11DS) is a true genetic risk factor for schizophrenia. Carriers of deletions in chromosome 22q11.2 develop schizophrenia at rate of 25–30% and such deletions account for as many as 1–2% of cases of sporadic schizophrenia in the general population. Access to a relatively homogeneous population of individuals that suffer from schizophrenia as the result of a shared etiological factor and the potential to generate etiologically valid mouse models provides an immense opportunity to better understand the pathobiology of this disease. In this review we survey the clinical literature associated with the 22q11.2 microdeletions with a focus on neuroanatomical changes. Then, we highlight results from work modeling this structural mutation in animals. The key biological pathways disrupted by the mutation are discussed and how these changes impact the structure and function of neural circuits is described.
Schizophrenia; 22q11.2; psychiatric genetics; Prodh; Dgcr8; Zdhhc8; Comt; copy number variant; microRNAs; palmitoylation; neurodevelopment
16p13.11 genomic copy number variants are implicated in several neuropsychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, autism, mental retardation, ADHD and epilepsy. The mechanisms leading to the diverse clinical manifestations of deletions and duplications at this locus are unknown. Most studies favour NDE1 as the leading disease-causing candidate gene at 16p13.11. In epilepsy at least, the deletion does not appear to unmask recessive-acting mutations in NDE1, with haploinsufficiency and genetic modifiers being prime candidate disease mechanisms. NDE1 encodes a protein critical to cell positioning during cortical development. As a first step, it is important to determine whether 16p13.11 copy number change translates to detectable brain structural alteration. We undertook detailed neuropathology on surgically resected brain tissue of two patients with intractable mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE), who had the same heterozygous NDE1-containing 800 kb 16p13.11 deletion, using routine histological stains and immunohistochemical markers against a range of layer-specific, white matter, neural precursor and migratory cell proteins, and NDE1 itself. Surgical temporal lobectomy samples from a MTLE case known not to have a deletion in NDE1 and three non-epilepsy cases were included as disease controls. We found that apart from a 3 mm hamartia in the temporal cortex of one MTLE case with NDE1 deletion and known hippocampal sclerosis in the other case, cortical lamination and cytoarchitecture were normal, with no differences between cases with deletion and disease controls. How 16p13.11 copy changes lead to a variety of brain diseases remains unclear, but at least in epilepsy, it would not seem to be through structural abnormality or dyslamination as judged by microscopy or immunohistochemistry. The need to integrate additional data with genetic findings to determine their significance will become more pressing as genetic technologies generate increasingly rich datasets. Detailed examination of brain tissue, where available, will be an important part of this process in neurogenetic disease specifically.
Autism and mental retardation (MR) show high rates of comorbidity and potentially share genetic risk factors. In this study, a rare ∼2 Mb microdeletion involving chromosome band 15q13.3 was detected in a multiplex autism family. This genomic loss lies between distal break points of the Prader–Willi/Angelman syndrome locus and was first described in association with MR and epilepsy. Together with recent studies that have also implicated this genomic imbalance in schizophrenia, our data indicate that this CNV shows considerable phenotypic variability. Further studies should aim to characterise the precise phenotypic range of this CNV and may lead to the discovery of genetic or environmental modifiers.
autism; CNV; genetic modifier; learning disability; schizophrenia; phenotypic variability
Despite high heritability, a large fraction of cases with schizophrenia do not have a family history of the disease (sporadic cases). Here, we examine the possibility that rare de novo protein-altering mutations contribute to the genetic component of schizophrenia by sequencing the exome of 53 sporadic cases, 22 unaffected controls and their parents. We identified 40 de novo mutations in 27 patients affecting 40 genes including a potentially disruptive mutation in DGCR2, a gene removed by the recurrent schizophrenia-predisposing 22q11.2 microdeletion. Comparison to rare inherited variants revealed that the identified de novo mutations show a large excess of nonsynonymous changes in cases, as well as a greater potential to affect protein structure and function. Our analysis reveals a major role of de novo mutations in schizophrenia and also a large mutational target, which together provide a plausible explanation for the high global incidence and persistence of the disease.
Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders in humans with a prevalence of 1% and a lifetime incidence of 3%. Several genes have been identified in rare autosomal dominant and severe sporadic forms of epilepsy, but the genetic cause is unknown in the vast majority of cases. Copy number variants (CNVs) are known to play an important role in the genetic etiology of many neurodevelopmental disorders, including intellectual disability (ID), autism, and schizophrenia. Genome-wide studies of copy number variation in epilepsy have not been performed. We have applied whole-genome oligonucleotide array comparative genomic hybridization to a cohort of 517 individuals with various idiopathic, non-lesional epilepsies. We detected one or more rare genic CNVs in 8.9% of affected individuals that are not present in 2,493 controls; five individuals had two rare CNVs. We identified CNVs in genes previously implicated in other neurodevelopmental disorders, including two deletions in AUTS2 and one deletion in CNTNAP2. Therefore, our findings indicate that rare CNVs are likely to contribute to a broad range of generalized and focal epilepsies. In addition, we find that 2.9% of patients carry deletions at 15q11.2, 15q13.3, or 16p13.11, genomic hotspots previously associated with ID, autism, or schizophrenia. In summary, our findings suggest common etiological factors for seemingly diverse diseases such as ID, autism, schizophrenia, and epilepsy.
Epilepsy, a common neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures, affects up to 3% of the population. In some cases, the epilepsy has a clear cause such as an abnormality in the brain or a head injury. However, in many cases there is no obvious cause. Numerous studies have shown that genetic factors are important in these types of epilepsy, but although several epilepsy genes are known, we can still only identify the genetic cause in a very small fraction of cases. In order to identify new genes that contribute to the genetic causes of epilepsy, we searched the human genome for deletions (missing copies) and duplications (extra copies) of genes in ∼500 patients with epilepsy that are not found in control individuals. Using this approach, we identified several large deletions that are important in at least 3% of epilepsy cases. Furthermore, we found new candidate genes, some of which are also thought to play a role in other related disorders such as autism and intellectual disability. These genes are candidates for further studies in patients with epilepsy.
Chromosomal microarray analysis has identified many novel microdeletions or microduplications that produce neurodevelopmental disorders with a recognizable clinical phenotype and that are not observed in normal individuals. However, imbalance of other genomic regions is associated with a variable phenotype with intellectual disability (ID) or autism in some individuals but are also observed in completely normal individuals. Several large studies have reported the prevalence of copy number (CN) variants in people with particular features (e.g., ID, autism, schizophrenia, or epilepsy); few studies have investigated the prevalence of genomic CN changes in the general population. We used a high-throughput method to screen 6813 consecutive cord blood samples from a predominantly French–Canadian population to assess genomic CN in five genomic regions: 1p36, 15q11-q13, 16p11.2, 16p11.2-p12.2, and 22q11.2. We identified one deletion and one duplication within 1p36, two deletions of 15q11-q13, eight deletions of 16p11.2-p12.2, two deletions and five duplications of 16p11.2, and six duplications of 22q11.2. This study provides estimates of the frequency of CN variants in an unselected population. Our findings have important implications for genetic counseling.
16p11.2; 22q11.2; normal population; screening
Autism is a complex childhood neurodevelopmental disorder with a strong genetic basis. Microdeletion or duplication of a ∼500–700-kb genomic rearrangement on 16p11.2 that contains 24 genes represents the second most frequent chromosomal disorder associated with autism. The role of common and rare 16p11.2 sequence variants in autism etiology is unknown.
To identify common 16p11.2 variants with a potential role in autism, we performed association studies using existing data generated from three microarray platforms: Affymetrix 5.0 (777 families), Illumina 550 K (943 families), and Affymetrix 500 K (60 families). No common variants were identified that were significantly associated with autism. To look for rare variants, we performed resequencing of coding and promoter regions for eight candidate genes selected based on their known expression patterns and functions. In total, we identified 26 novel variants in autism: 13 exonic (nine non-synonymous, three synonymous, and one untranslated region) and 13 promoter variants. We found a significant association between autism and a coding variant in the seizure-related gene SEZ6L2 (12/1106 autism vs. 3/1161 controls; p = 0.018). Sez6l2 expression in mouse embryos was restricted to the spinal cord and brain. SEZ6L2 expression in human fetal brain was highest in post-mitotic cortical layers, hippocampus, amygdala, and thalamus. Association analysis of SEZ6L2 in an independent sample set failed to replicate our initial findings.
We have identified sequence variation in at least one candidate gene in 16p11.2 that may represent a novel genetic risk factor for autism. However, further studies are required to substantiate these preliminary findings.
The term “epilepsy” describes a heterogeneous group of disorders, most of them caused by interactions between several or even many genes and environmental factors. Much rarer are the genetic epilepsies that are due to single-gene mutations or defined structural chromosomal aberrations, such as microdeletions. The discovery of several of the genes underlying these rare genetic epilepsies has already considerably contributed to our understanding of the basic mechanisms epileptogenesis. The progress made in the last 15 years in the genetics of epilepsy is providing new possibilities for diagnosis and therapy. Here, different genetic epilepsies are reviewed as examples, to demonstrate the various pathways that can lead from genes to seizures.
idiopathic epilepsy; symptomatic epilepsy; channelopathy; autosomal dominant nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy; benign familial neonatal convulsion; progressive myoclonus epilepsy; double cortex syndrome
With the introduction of new genetic techniques such as genome-wide array comparative genomic hybridization, studies on the putative genetic etiology of schizophrenia have focused on the detection of copy number variants (CNVs), ie, microdeletions and/or microduplications, that are estimated to be present in up to 3% of patients with schizophrenia. In this study, out of a sample of 100 patients with psychotic disorders, 80 were investigated by array for the presence of CNVs. The assessment of the severity of psychiatric symptoms was performed using standardized instruments and ICD-10 was applied for diagnostic classification. In three patients, a submicroscopic CNV was demonstrated, one with a loss in 1q21.1 and two with a gain in 1p13.3 and 7q11.2, respectively. The association between these or other CNVs and schizophrenia or schizophrenia-like psychoses and their clinical implications still remain equivocal. While the CNV affected genes may enhance the vulnerability for psychiatric disorders via effects on neuronal architecture, these insights have not resulted in major changes in clinical practice as yet. Therefore, genome-wide array analysis should presently be restricted to those patients in whom psychotic symptoms are paired with other signs, particularly dysmorphisms and intellectual impairment.
schizophrenia; psychotic disorders; microarray; copy number variants; 1q21; 7q11.2; 1p13.3
Patients with epilepsy often suffer from other important conditions. The existence of such co-morbidities is frequently not recognized and their relationship with epilepsy usually remains unexplained.
We describe three patients with common, sporadic, non-syndromic epilepsies in whom large genomic microdeletions were found during a study of genetic susceptibility to epilepsy. We performed detailed gene-driven clinical investigations in each patient. Disruption of the function of genes in the deleted regions can explain co-morbidities in these patients.
Co-morbidities in patients with epilepsy can be part of a genomic abnormality even in the absence of (known) congenital malformations or intellectual disabilities. Gene-driven phenotype examination can also reveal clinically significant unsuspected condition.
The human genome is enriched in interspersed segmental duplications that sensitize approximately 10% of our genome to recurrent microdeletions and microduplications as a result of unequal crossing over. We review the recent discovery of recurrent rearrangements within these genomic hotspots and their association with both syndromic and non-syndromic diseases. Studies of common complex genetic disease show that a subset of these recurrent events plays an important role in autism, schizophrenia and epilepsy. The genomic hotspot model may provide a powerful approach for understanding the role of rare variants in common disease.