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1.  Maternal Prenatal Weight Gain and Autism Spectrum Disorders 
Pediatrics  2013;132(5):e1276-e1283.
BACKGROUND:
The rising population of individuals identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) calls for further investigation of its underlying etiology. A disturbance in the fetal steroid hormone environment may be a mechanism in which environmental and genetic risk factors interact. The mother, fetus, and placenta collectively create the fetal steroid environment. Prepregnancy BMI and pregnancy weight gain have served as markers for fetal steroid hormone exposure in other disease states. This study’s objective is to determine whether prepregnancy BMI and pregnancy weight gain are associated with increased ASD risk across study designs and cohorts while controlling for important confounding variables.
METHODS:
A population-based Utah ASD cohort (n = 128) was ascertained in a 3-county surveillance area and gender- and age-matched to 10 920 control subjects. A second, research-based ASD cohort of Utah children (n = 288) and their unaffected siblings (n = 493) were ascertained through participation in an ASD genetics study. Prenatal variables were obtained from birth certificate records.
RESULTS:
ASD risk was significantly associated with pregnancy weight gain (adjusted odds ratio = 1.10, 95% confidence interval: 1.03 to 1.17; adjusted odds ratio = 1.17, 95% confidence interval: 1.01 to 1.35 for each 5 pounds of weight gained), but not prepregnancy BMI, in population and research-based cohorts, respectively. When analyses were restricted to ASD cases with normal IQ, these associations remained significant.
CONCLUSIONS:
ASD risk associated with a modest yet consistent increase in pregnancy weight gain suggests that pregnancy weight gain may serve as an important marker for autism’s underlying gestational etiology. This justifies an investigation into phenomena that link pregnancy weight gain and ASD independent of prepregnancy BMI.
doi:10.1542/peds.2013-1188
PMCID: PMC3813395  PMID: 24167172
autism; prenatal; weight gain; risk factors; epidemiology
2.  Human neuronal acetylcholine receptor A5-A3-B4 haplotypes are associated with multiple nicotine dependence phenotypes 
Nicotine & Tobacco Research  2009;11(7):785-796.
Introduction:
Previous research revealed significant associations between haplotypes in the CHRNA5-A3-B4 subunit cluster and scores on the Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence among individuals reporting daily smoking by age 17. The present study used subsamples of participants from that study to investigate associations between the CHRNA5-A3-B4 haplotypes and an array of phenotypes not analyzed previously (i.e., withdrawal severity, ability to stop smoking, and specific scales on the Wisconsin Inventory of Smoking Dependence Motives (WISDM-68) that reflect loss of control, strong craving, and heavy smoking.
Methods:
Two cohorts of current or former smokers (N = 886) provided both self-report data and DNA samples. One sample (Wisconsin) comprised smokers making a quit smoking attempt, which permitted the assessment of withdrawal and relapse during the attempt. The other sample (Utah) comprised participants studied for risk factors for nicotine dependence and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and included individuals originally recruited in the Lung Health Study.
Results:
The CHRNA5-A3-B4 haplotypes were significantly associated with the targeted WISDM-68 scales (Tolerance, Craving, Loss of Control) in both samples of participants but only among individuals who began smoking early in life. The haplotypes were significantly associated with relapse likelihood and withdrawal severity, but these associations showed no evidence of an interaction with age at daily smoking.
Discussion:
The CHRNA5-A3-B4 haplotypes are associated with a broad range of nicotine dependence phenotypes, but these associations are not consistently moderated by age at initial smoking.
doi:10.1093/ntr/ntp064
PMCID: PMC2699926  PMID: 19436041
3.  Individual common variants exert weak effects on the risk for autism spectrum disorderspi 
Anney, Richard | Klei, Lambertus | Pinto, Dalila | Almeida, Joana | Bacchelli, Elena | Baird, Gillian | Bolshakova, Nadia | Bölte, Sven | Bolton, Patrick F. | Bourgeron, Thomas | Brennan, Sean | Brian, Jessica | Casey, Jillian | Conroy, Judith | Correia, Catarina | Corsello, Christina | Crawford, Emily L. | de Jonge, Maretha | Delorme, Richard | Duketis, Eftichia | Duque, Frederico | Estes, Annette | Farrar, Penny | Fernandez, Bridget A. | Folstein, Susan E. | Fombonne, Eric | Gilbert, John | Gillberg, Christopher | Glessner, Joseph T. | Green, Andrew | Green, Jonathan | Guter, Stephen J. | Heron, Elizabeth A. | Holt, Richard | Howe, Jennifer L. | Hughes, Gillian | Hus, Vanessa | Igliozzi, Roberta | Jacob, Suma | Kenny, Graham P. | Kim, Cecilia | Kolevzon, Alexander | Kustanovich, Vlad | Lajonchere, Clara M. | Lamb, Janine A. | Law-Smith, Miriam | Leboyer, Marion | Le Couteur, Ann | Leventhal, Bennett L. | Liu, Xiao-Qing | Lombard, Frances | Lord, Catherine | Lotspeich, Linda | Lund, Sabata C. | Magalhaes, Tiago R. | Mantoulan, Carine | McDougle, Christopher J. | Melhem, Nadine M. | Merikangas, Alison | Minshew, Nancy J. | Mirza, Ghazala K. | Munson, Jeff | Noakes, Carolyn | Nygren, Gudrun | Papanikolaou, Katerina | Pagnamenta, Alistair T. | Parrini, Barbara | Paton, Tara | Pickles, Andrew | Posey, David J. | Poustka, Fritz | Ragoussis, Jiannis | Regan, Regina | Roberts, Wendy | Roeder, Kathryn | Roge, Bernadette | Rutter, Michael L. | Schlitt, Sabine | Shah, Naisha | Sheffield, Val C. | Soorya, Latha | Sousa, Inês | Stoppioni, Vera | Sykes, Nuala | Tancredi, Raffaella | Thompson, Ann P. | Thomson, Susanne | Tryfon, Ana | Tsiantis, John | Van Engeland, Herman | Vincent, John B. | Volkmar, Fred | Vorstman, JAS | Wallace, Simon | Wing, Kirsty | Wittemeyer, Kerstin | Wood, Shawn | Zurawiecki, Danielle | Zwaigenbaum, Lonnie | Bailey, Anthony J. | Battaglia, Agatino | Cantor, Rita M. | Coon, Hilary | Cuccaro, Michael L. | Dawson, Geraldine | Ennis, Sean | Freitag, Christine M. | Geschwind, Daniel H. | Haines, Jonathan L. | Klauck, Sabine M. | McMahon, William M. | Maestrini, Elena | Miller, Judith | Monaco, Anthony P. | Nelson, Stanley F. | Nurnberger, John I. | Oliveira, Guiomar | Parr, Jeremy R. | Pericak-Vance, Margaret A. | Piven, Joseph | Schellenberg, Gerard D. | Scherer, Stephen W. | Vicente, Astrid M. | Wassink, Thomas H. | Wijsman, Ellen M. | Betancur, Catalina | Buxbaum, Joseph D. | Cook, Edwin H. | Gallagher, Louise | Gill, Michael | Hallmayer, Joachim | Paterson, Andrew D. | Sutcliffe, James S. | Szatmari, Peter | Vieland, Veronica J. | Hakonarson, Hakon | Devlin, Bernie
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;21(21):4781-4792.
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.
doi:10.1093/hmg/dds301
PMCID: PMC3471395  PMID: 22843504
4.  A novel approach of homozygous haplotype sharing identifies candidate genes in autism spectrum disorder 
Casey, Jillian P. | Magalhaes, Tiago | Conroy, Judith M. | Regan, Regina | Shah, Naisha | Anney, Richard | Shields, Denis C. | Abrahams, Brett S. | Almeida, Joana | Bacchelli, Elena | Bailey, Anthony J. | Baird, Gillian | Battaglia, Agatino | Berney, Tom | Bolshakova, Nadia | Bolton, Patrick F. | Bourgeron, Thomas | Brennan, Sean | Cali, Phil | Correia, Catarina | Corsello, Christina | Coutanche, Marc | Dawson, Geraldine | de Jonge, Maretha | Delorme, Richard | Duketis, Eftichia | Duque, Frederico | Estes, Annette | Farrar, Penny | Fernandez, Bridget A. | Folstein, Susan E. | Foley, Suzanne | Fombonne, Eric | Freitag, Christine M. | Gilbert, John | Gillberg, Christopher | Glessner, Joseph T. | Green, Jonathan | Guter, Stephen J. | Hakonarson, Hakon | Holt, Richard | Hughes, Gillian | Hus, Vanessa | Igliozzi, Roberta | Kim, Cecilia | Klauck, Sabine M. | Kolevzon, Alexander | Lamb, Janine A. | Leboyer, Marion | Le Couteur, Ann | Leventhal, Bennett L. | Lord, Catherine | Lund, Sabata C. | Maestrini, Elena | Mantoulan, Carine | Marshall, Christian R. | McConachie, Helen | McDougle, Christopher J. | McGrath, Jane | McMahon, William M. | Merikangas, Alison | Miller, Judith | Minopoli, Fiorella | Mirza, Ghazala K. | Munson, Jeff | Nelson, Stanley F. | Nygren, Gudrun | Oliveira, Guiomar | Pagnamenta, Alistair T. | Papanikolaou, Katerina | Parr, Jeremy R. | Parrini, Barbara | Pickles, Andrew | Pinto, Dalila | Piven, Joseph | Posey, David J. | Poustka, Annemarie | Poustka, Fritz | Ragoussis, Jiannis | Roge, Bernadette | Rutter, Michael L. | Sequeira, Ana F. | Soorya, Latha | Sousa, Inês | Sykes, Nuala | Stoppioni, Vera | Tancredi, Raffaella | Tauber, Maïté | Thompson, Ann P. | Thomson, Susanne | Tsiantis, John | Van Engeland, Herman | Vincent, John B. | Volkmar, Fred | Vorstman, Jacob A. S. | Wallace, Simon | Wang, Kai | Wassink, Thomas H. | White, Kathy | Wing, Kirsty | Wittemeyer, Kerstin | Yaspan, Brian L. | Zwaigenbaum, Lonnie | Betancur, Catalina | Buxbaum, Joseph D. | Cantor, Rita M. | Cook, Edwin H. | Coon, Hilary | Cuccaro, Michael L. | Geschwind, Daniel H. | Haines, Jonathan L. | Hallmayer, Joachim | Monaco, Anthony P. | Nurnberger, John I. | Pericak-Vance, Margaret A. | Schellenberg, Gerard D. | Scherer, Stephen W. | Sutcliffe, James S. | Szatmari, Peter | Vieland, Veronica J. | Wijsman, Ellen M. | Green, Andrew | Gill, Michael | Gallagher, Louise | Vicente, Astrid | Ennis, Sean
Human Genetics  2011;131(4):565-579.
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 (~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.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00439-011-1094-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s00439-011-1094-6
PMCID: PMC3303079  PMID: 21996756
5.  Linkage Analysis of Tourette Syndrome in a Large Utah Pedigree 
Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a neuropsychiatric disorder characterized by multiple motor and phonic tics. The heritability of TS has been well established, yet there is a lack of consensus in genome-wide linkage studies. The purpose of this study was to conduct a genome-wide linkage analysis on a unique, large, high-risk TS Utah pedigree. We examined a qualitative trait (TS1) where cases had a definitive diagnosis of TS as observed by a clinical interviewer (n=66) and a quantitative phenotype based on the total Yale global motor and phonic tic severity scores (n=102). Both parametric and non-parametric multipoint linkage analyses based on MCMC methods were performed using a 10cM spaced micro-satellite autosomal marker set. Two regions of interest were identified under affecteds-only recessive models; a LOD score of 3.3 on chromosome 1p for Yale tic severity and a LOD score of 3.1 on chromosome 3p for the TS1 phenotype. Twenty-seven individuals shared linked segregating haplotypes for the 1p region. They had significantly higher Yale tic phonic scores than non-sharers (p=0.01). There were 46 haplotype sharers on chromosome 3p with significantly higher percentage of females among these individuals compared to the non-sharers (p=0.03). The significant linkage peaks on chromosomes 1p and 3p are in new areas of the genome for TS, and replication of these findings is necessary.
doi:10.1002/ajmg.b.31035
PMCID: PMC2923637  PMID: 19777563
Linkage analysis; Tourette Syndrome
6.  Functional Impact of Global Rare Copy Number Variation in Autism Spectrum Disorder 
Pinto, Dalila | Pagnamenta, Alistair T. | Klei, Lambertus | Anney, Richard | Merico, Daniele | Regan, Regina | Conroy, Judith | Magalhaes, Tiago R. | Correia, Catarina | Abrahams, Brett S. | Almeida, Joana | Bacchelli, Elena | Bader, Gary D. | Bailey, Anthony J. | Baird, Gillian | Battaglia, Agatino | Berney, Tom | Bolshakova, Nadia | Bölte, Sven | Bolton, Patrick F. | Bourgeron, Thomas | Brennan, Sean | Brian, Jessica | Bryson, Susan E. | Carson, Andrew R. | Casallo, Guillermo | Casey, Jillian | Cochrane, Lynne | Corsello, Christina | Crawford, Emily L. | Crossett, Andrew | Dawson, Geraldine | de Jonge, Maretha | Delorme, Richard | Drmic, Irene | Duketis, Eftichia | Duque, Frederico | Estes, Annette | Farrar, Penny | Fernandez, Bridget A. | Filipa, Ana | Folstein, Susan E. | Fombonne, Eric | Freitag, Christine M. | Gilbert, John | Gillberg, Christopher | Glessner, Joseph T. | Goldberg, Jeremy | Green, Andrew | Green, Jonathan | Guter, Stephen J. | Hakonarson, Hakon | Heron, Elizabeth A. | Hill, Matthew | Holt, Richard | Howe, Jennifer L. | Hughes, Gillian | Hus, Vanessa | Igliozzi, Roberta | Kim, Cecilia | Klauck, Sabine M. | Kolevzon, Alexander | Korvatska, Olena | Kustanovich, Vlad | Lajonchere, Clara M. | Lamb, Janine A. | Laskawiec, Magdalena | Leboyer, Marion | Le Couteur, Ann | Leventhal, Bennett L. | Lionel, Anath C. | Liu, Xiao-Qing | Lord, Catherine | Lotspeich, Linda | Lund, Sabata C. | Maestrini, Elena | Mahoney, William | Mantoulan, Carine | Marshall, Christian R. | McConachie, Helen | McDougle, Christopher J. | McGrath, Jane | McMahon, William M. | Merikangas, Alison | Migita, Ohsuke | Minshew, Nancy J. | Mirza, Ghazala K. | Munson, Jeff | Nelson, Stanley F. | Noakes, Carolyn | Noor, Abdul | Nygren, Gudrun | Oliveira, Guiomar | Papanikolaou, Katerina | Parr, Jeremy R. | Parrini, Barbara | Paton, Tara | Pickles, Andrew | Pilorge, Marion | Piven, Joseph | Ponting, Chris P. | Posey, David J. | Poustka, Annemarie | Poustka, Fritz | Prasad, Aparna | Ragoussis, Jiannis | Renshaw, Katy | Rickaby, Jessica | Roberts, Wendy | Roeder, Kathryn | Roge, Bernadette | Rutter, Michael L. | Bierut, Laura J. | Rice, John P. | Consortium, SAGE | Salt, Jeff | Sansom, Katherine | Sato, Daisuke | Segurado, Ricardo | Senman, Lili | Shah, Naisha | Sheffield, Val C. | Soorya, Latha | Sousa, Inês | Stein, Olaf | Stoppioni, Vera | Strawbridge, Christina | Tancredi, Raffaella | Tansey, Katherine | Thiruvahindrapduram, Bhooma | Thompson, Ann P. | Thomson, Susanne | Tryfon, Ana | Tsiantis, John | Van Engeland, Herman | Vincent, John B. | Volkmar, Fred | Wallace, Simon | Wang, Kai | Wang, Zhouzhi | Wassink, Thomas H. | Webber, Caleb | Wing, Kirsty | Wittemeyer, Kerstin | Wood, Shawn | Wu, Jing | Yaspan, Brian L. | Zurawiecki, Danielle | Zwaigenbaum, Lonnie | Buxbaum, Joseph D. | Cantor, Rita M. | Cook, Edwin H. | Coon, Hilary | Cuccaro, Michael L. | Devlin, Bernie | Ennis, Sean | Gallagher, Louise | Geschwind, Daniel H. | Gill, Michael | Haines, Jonathan L. | Hallmayer, Joachim | Miller, Judith | Monaco, Anthony P. | Nurnberger, John I. | Paterson, Andrew D. | Pericak-Vance, Margaret A. | Schellenberg, Gerard D. | Szatmari, Peter | Vicente, Astrid M. | Vieland, Veronica J. | Wijsman, Ellen M. | Scherer, Stephen W. | Sutcliffe, James S. | Betancur, Catalina
Nature  2010;466(7304):368-372.
The autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of conditions characterized by impairments in reciprocal social interaction and communication, and the presence of restricted and repetitive behaviors1. Individuals with an ASD vary greatly in cognitive development, which can range from above average to intellectual disability (ID)2. While ASDs are known to be highly heritable (~90%)3, the underlying genetic determinants are still largely unknown. Here, we analyzed the genome-wide characteristics of rare (<1% frequency) copy number variation (CNV) in ASD using dense genotyping arrays. When comparing 996 ASD individuals of European ancestry to 1,287 matched controls, cases were found to carry a higher global burden of rare, genic CNVs (1.19 fold, P= 0.012), especially so for loci previously implicated in either ASD and/or intellectual disability (1.69 fold, P= 3.4×10−4). Among the CNVs, there were numerous de novo and inherited events, sometimes in combination in a given family, implicating many novel ASD genes like SHANK2, SYNGAP1, DLGAP2 and the X-linked DDX53-PTCHD1 locus. We also discovered an enrichment of CNVs disrupting functional gene-sets involved in cellular proliferation, projection and motility, and GTPase/Ras signaling. Our results reveal many new genetic and functional targets in ASD that may lead to final connected pathways.
doi:10.1038/nature09146
PMCID: PMC3021798  PMID: 20531469
7.  Common genetic variants on 5p14.1 associate with autism spectrum disorders 
Nature  2009;459(7246):528-533.
Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) represent a group of childhood neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders characterized by deficits in verbal communication, impairment of social interaction, and restricted and repetitive patterns of interests and behaviour. To identify common genetic risk factors underlying ASDs, here we present the results of genome-wide association studies on a cohort of 780 families (3,101 subjects) with affected children, and a second cohort of 1,204 affected subjects and 6,491 control subjects, all of whom were of European ancestry. Six single nucleotide polymorphisms between cadherin 10 (CDH10) and cadherin 9 (CDH9)—two genes encoding neuronal cell-adhesion molecules—revealed strong association signals, with the most significant SNP being rs4307059 (P = 3.4 × 10−8, odds ratio = 1.19). These signals were replicated in two independent cohorts, with combined P values ranging from 7.4 × 10−8 to 2.1 × 10−10. Our results implicate neuronal cell-adhesion molecules in the pathogenesis of ASDs, and represent, to our knowledge, the first demonstration of genome-wide significant association of common variants with susceptibility to ASDs.
doi:10.1038/nature07999
PMCID: PMC2943511  PMID: 19404256
8.  Autism genome-wide copy number variation reveals ubiquitin and neuronal genes 
Nature  2009;459(7246):569-573.
Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are childhood neurodevelopmental disorders with complex genetic origins1–4. Previous studies focusing on candidate genes or genomic regions have identified several copy number variations (CNVs) that are associated with an increased risk of ASDs5–9. Here we present the results from a whole-genome CNV study on a cohort of 859 ASD cases and 1,409 healthy children of European ancestry who were genotyped with ~550,000 single nucleotide polymorphism markers, in an attempt to comprehensively identify CNVs conferring susceptibility to ASDs. Positive findings were evaluated in an independent cohort of 1,336 ASD cases and 1,110 controls of European ancestry. Besides previously reported ASD candidate genes, such as NRXN1 (ref. 10) and CNTN4 (refs 11, 12), several new susceptibility genes encoding neuronal cell-adhesion molecules, including NLGN1 and ASTN2, were enriched with CNVs in ASD cases compared to controls (P = 9.5 × 10−3). Furthermore, CNVs within or surrounding genes involved in the ubiquitin pathways, including UBE3A, PARK2, RFWD2 and FBXO40, were affected by CNVs not observed in controls (P = 3.3 × 10−3). We also identified duplications 55 kilobases upstream of complementary DNA AK123120 (P = 3.6 × 10−6). Although these variants may be individually rare, they target genes involved in neuronal cell-adhesion or ubiquitin degradation, indicating that these two important gene networks expressed within the central nervous system may contribute to the genetic susceptibility of ASD.
doi:10.1038/nature07953
PMCID: PMC2925224  PMID: 19404257
9.  A genome-wide scan for common alleles affecting risk for autism 
Anney, Richard | Klei, Lambertus | Pinto, Dalila | Regan, Regina | Conroy, Judith | Magalhaes, Tiago R. | Correia, Catarina | Abrahams, Brett S. | Sykes, Nuala | Pagnamenta, Alistair T. | Almeida, Joana | Bacchelli, Elena | Bailey, Anthony J. | Baird, Gillian | Battaglia, Agatino | Berney, Tom | Bolshakova, Nadia | Bölte, Sven | Bolton, Patrick F. | Bourgeron, Thomas | Brennan, Sean | Brian, Jessica | Carson, Andrew R. | Casallo, Guillermo | Casey, Jillian | Chu, Su H. | Cochrane, Lynne | Corsello, Christina | Crawford, Emily L. | Crossett, Andrew | Dawson, Geraldine | de Jonge, Maretha | Delorme, Richard | Drmic, Irene | Duketis, Eftichia | Duque, Frederico | Estes, Annette | Farrar, Penny | Fernandez, Bridget A. | Folstein, Susan E. | Fombonne, Eric | Freitag, Christine M. | Gilbert, John | Gillberg, Christopher | Glessner, Joseph T. | Goldberg, Jeremy | Green, Jonathan | Guter, Stephen J. | Hakonarson, Hakon | Heron, Elizabeth A. | Hill, Matthew | Holt, Richard | Howe, Jennifer L. | Hughes, Gillian | Hus, Vanessa | Igliozzi, Roberta | Kim, Cecilia | Klauck, Sabine M. | Kolevzon, Alexander | Korvatska, Olena | Kustanovich, Vlad | Lajonchere, Clara M. | Lamb, Janine A. | Laskawiec, Magdalena | Leboyer, Marion | Le Couteur, Ann | Leventhal, Bennett L. | Lionel, Anath C. | Liu, Xiao-Qing | Lord, Catherine | Lotspeich, Linda | Lund, Sabata C. | Maestrini, Elena | Mahoney, William | Mantoulan, Carine | Marshall, Christian R. | McConachie, Helen | McDougle, Christopher J. | McGrath, Jane | McMahon, William M. | Melhem, Nadine M. | Merikangas, Alison | Migita, Ohsuke | Minshew, Nancy J. | Mirza, Ghazala K. | Munson, Jeff | Nelson, Stanley F. | Noakes, Carolyn | Noor, Abdul | Nygren, Gudrun | Oliveira, Guiomar | Papanikolaou, Katerina | Parr, Jeremy R. | Parrini, Barbara | Paton, Tara | Pickles, Andrew | Piven, Joseph | Posey, David J | Poustka, Annemarie | Poustka, Fritz | Prasad, Aparna | Ragoussis, Jiannis | Renshaw, Katy | Rickaby, Jessica | Roberts, Wendy | Roeder, Kathryn | Roge, Bernadette | Rutter, Michael L. | Bierut, Laura J. | Rice, John P. | Salt, Jeff | Sansom, Katherine | Sato, Daisuke | Segurado, Ricardo | Senman, Lili | Shah, Naisha | Sheffield, Val C. | Soorya, Latha | Sousa, Inês | Stoppioni, Vera | Strawbridge, Christina | Tancredi, Raffaella | Tansey, Katherine | Thiruvahindrapduram, Bhooma | Thompson, Ann P. | Thomson, Susanne | Tryfon, Ana | Tsiantis, John | Van Engeland, Herman | Vincent, John B. | Volkmar, Fred | Wallace, Simon | Wang, Kai | Wang, Zhouzhi | Wassink, Thomas H. | Wing, Kirsty | Wittemeyer, Kerstin | Wood, Shawn | Yaspan, Brian L. | Zurawiecki, Danielle | Zwaigenbaum, Lonnie | Betancur, Catalina | Buxbaum, Joseph D. | Cantor, Rita M. | Cook, Edwin H. | Coon, Hilary | Cuccaro, Michael L. | Gallagher, Louise | Geschwind, Daniel H. | Gill, Michael | Haines, Jonathan L. | Miller, Judith | Monaco, Anthony P. | Nurnberger, John I. | Paterson, Andrew D. | Pericak-Vance, Margaret A. | Schellenberg, Gerard D. | Scherer, Stephen W. | Sutcliffe, James S. | Szatmari, Peter | Vicente, Astrid M. | Vieland, Veronica J. | Wijsman, Ellen M. | Devlin, Bernie | Ennis, Sean | Hallmayer, Joachim
Human Molecular Genetics  2010;19(20):4072-4082.
Although autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) have a substantial genetic basis, most of the known genetic risk has been traced to rare variants, principally copy number variants (CNVs). To identify common risk variation, the Autism Genome Project (AGP) Consortium genotyped 1558 rigorously defined ASD families for 1 million single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and analyzed these SNP genotypes for association with ASD. In one of four primary association analyses, the association signal for marker rs4141463, located within MACROD2, crossed the genome-wide association significance threshold of P < 5 × 10−8. When a smaller replication sample was analyzed, the risk allele at rs4141463 was again over-transmitted; yet, consistent with the winner's curse, its effect size in the replication sample was much smaller; and, for the combined samples, the association signal barely fell below the P < 5 × 10−8 threshold. Exploratory analyses of phenotypic subtypes yielded no significant associations after correction for multiple testing. They did, however, yield strong signals within several genes, KIAA0564, PLD5, POU6F2, ST8SIA2 and TAF1C.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddq307
PMCID: PMC2947401  PMID: 20663923
10.  Genome-wide linkage using the Social Responsiveness Scale in Utah autism pedigrees 
Molecular Autism  2010;1:8.
Background
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are phenotypically heterogeneous, characterized by impairments in the development of communication and social behaviour and the presence of repetitive behaviour and restricted interests. Dissecting the genetic complexity of ASD may require phenotypic data reflecting more detail than is offered by a categorical clinical diagnosis. Such data are available from the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS) which is a continuous, quantitative measure of social ability giving scores that range from significant impairment to above average ability.
Methods
We present genome-wide results for 64 multiplex and extended families ranging from two to nine generations. SRS scores were available from 518 genotyped pedigree subjects, including affected and unaffected relatives. Genotypes from the Illumina 6 k single nucleotide polymorphism panel were provided by the Center for Inherited Disease Research. Quantitative and qualitative analyses were done using MCLINK, a software package that uses Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) methods to perform multilocus linkage analysis on large extended pedigrees.
Results
When analysed as a qualitative trait, linkage occurred in the same locations as in our previous affected-only genome scan of these families, with findings on chromosomes 7q31.1-q32.3 [heterogeneity logarithm of the odds (HLOD) = 2.91], 15q13.3 (HLOD = 3.64), and 13q12.3 (HLOD = 2.23). Additional positive qualitative results were seen on chromosomes 6 and 10 in regions that may be of interest for other neuropsychiatric disorders. When analysed as a quantitative trait, results replicated a peak found in an independent sample using quantitative SRS scores on chromosome 11p15.1-p15.4 (HLOD = 2.77). Additional positive quantitative results were seen on chromosomes 7, 9, and 19.
Conclusions
The SRS linkage peaks reported here substantially overlap with peaks found in our previous affected-only genome scan of clinical diagnosis. In addition, we replicated a previous SRS peak in an independent sample. These results suggest the SRS is a robust and useful phenotype measure for genetic linkage studies of ASD. Finally, analyses of SRS scores revealed linkage peaks overlapping with evidence from other studies of neuropsychiatric diseases. The information available from the SRS itself may, therefore, reveal locations for autism susceptibility genes that would not otherwise be detected.
doi:10.1186/2040-2392-1-8
PMCID: PMC2913945  PMID: 20678250
11.  Genome-wide linkage analyses of two repetitive behavior phenotypes in Utah pedigrees with autism spectrum disorders 
Molecular Autism  2010;1:3.
Background
It has been suggested that efforts to identify genetic risk markers of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) would benefit from the analysis of more narrowly defined ASD phenotypes. Previous research indicates that 'insistence on sameness' (IS) and 'repetitive sensory-motor actions' (RSMA) are two factors within the ASD 'repetitive and stereotyped behavior' domain. The primary aim of this study was to identify genetic risk markers of both factors to allow comparison of those markers with one another and with markers found in the same set of pedigrees using ASD diagnosis as the phenotype. Thus, we empirically addresses the possibilities that more narrowly defined phenotypes improve linkage analysis signals and that different narrowly defined phenotypes are associated with different loci. Secondary aims were to examine the correlates of IS and RSMA and to assess the heritability of both scales.
Methods
A genome-wide linkage analysis was conducted with a sample of 70 multiplex ASD pedigrees using IS and RSMA as phenotypes. Genotyping services were provided by the Center for Inherited Disease Research using the 6 K single nucleotide polymorphism linkage panel. Analysis was done using the multipoint linkage software program MCLINK, a Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) method that allows for multilocus linkage analysis on large extended pedigrees.
Results
Genome-wide significance was observed for IS at 2q37.1-q37.3 (dominant model heterogeneity lod score (hlod) 3.42) and for RSMA at 15q13.1-q14 (recessive model hlod 3.93). We found some linkage signals that overlapped and others that were not observed in our previous linkage analysis of the ASD phenotype in the same pedigrees, and regions varied in the range of phenotypes with which they were linked. A new finding with respect to IS was that it is positively associated with IQ if the IS-RSMA correlation is statistically controlled.
Conclusions
The finding that IS and RSMA are linked to different regions that only partially overlap regions previously identified with ASD as the phenotype supports the value of including multiple, narrowly defined phenotypes in ASD genetic research. Further, we replicated previous reports indicating that RSMA is more strongly associated than IS with measures of ASD severity.
doi:10.1186/2040-2392-1-3
PMCID: PMC2907569  PMID: 20678246
12.  Genome-Wide Analyses of Exonic Copy Number Variants in a Family-Based Study Point to Novel Autism Susceptibility Genes 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(6):e1000536.
The genetics underlying the autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) is complex and remains poorly understood. Previous work has demonstrated an important role for structural variation in a subset of cases, but has lacked the resolution necessary to move beyond detection of large regions of potential interest to identification of individual genes. To pinpoint genes likely to contribute to ASD etiology, we performed high density genotyping in 912 multiplex families from the Autism Genetics Resource Exchange (AGRE) collection and contrasted results to those obtained for 1,488 healthy controls. Through prioritization of exonic deletions (eDels), exonic duplications (eDups), and whole gene duplication events (gDups), we identified more than 150 loci harboring rare variants in multiple unrelated probands, but no controls. Importantly, 27 of these were confirmed on examination of an independent replication cohort comprised of 859 cases and an additional 1,051 controls. Rare variants at known loci, including exonic deletions at NRXN1 and whole gene duplications encompassing UBE3A and several other genes in the 15q11–q13 region, were observed in the course of these analyses. Strong support was likewise observed for previously unreported genes such as BZRAP1, an adaptor molecule known to regulate synaptic transmission, with eDels or eDups observed in twelve unrelated cases but no controls (p = 2.3×10−5). Less is known about MDGA2, likewise observed to be case-specific (p = 1.3×10−4). But, it is notable that the encoded protein shows an unexpectedly high similarity to Contactin 4 (BLAST E-value = 3×10−39), which has also been linked to disease. That hundreds of distinct rare variants were each seen only once further highlights complexity in the ASDs and points to the continued need for larger cohorts.
Author Summary
Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are common neurodevelopmental syndromes with a strong genetic component. ASDs are characterized by disturbances in social behavior, impaired verbal and nonverbal communication, as well as repetitive behaviors and/or a restricted range of interests. To identify genes likely to contribute to ASD etiology, we performed high density genotyping in 912 multiplex families from the Autism Genetics Resource Exchange (AGRE) collection and contrasted results to those obtained for 1,488 healthy controls. To enrich for variants most likely to interfere with gene function, we restricted our analyses to deletions and gains encompassing exons. Of the many genomic regions highlighted, 27 were seen to harbor rare variants in cases and not controls, both in the first phase of our analysis, and also in an independent replication cohort comprised of 859 cases and 1,051 controls. More work in a larger number of individuals will be required to determine which of the rare alleles highlighted here are indeed related to the ASDs and how they act to shape risk.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000536
PMCID: PMC2695001  PMID: 19557195
13.  A Candidate Gene Approach Identifies the CHRNA5-A3-B4 Region as a Risk Factor for Age-Dependent Nicotine Addiction 
PLoS Genetics  2008;4(7):e1000125.
People who begin daily smoking at an early age are at greater risk of long-term nicotine addiction. We tested the hypothesis that associations between nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) genetic variants and nicotine dependence assessed in adulthood will be stronger among smokers who began daily nicotine exposure during adolescence. We compared nicotine addiction—measured by the Fagerstrom Test of Nicotine Dependence—in three cohorts of long-term smokers recruited in Utah, Wisconsin, and by the NHLBI Lung Health Study, using a candidate-gene approach with the neuronal nAChR subunit genes. This SNP panel included common coding variants and haplotypes detected in eight α and three β nAChR subunit genes found in European American populations. In the 2,827 long-term smokers examined, common susceptibility and protective haplotypes at the CHRNA5-A3-B4 locus were associated with nicotine dependence severity (p = 2.0×10−5; odds ratio = 1.82; 95% confidence interval 1.39–2.39) in subjects who began daily smoking at or before the age of 16, an exposure period that results in a more severe form of adult nicotine dependence. A substantial shift in susceptibility versus protective diplotype frequency (AA versus BC = 17%, AA versus CC = 27%) was observed in the group that began smoking by age 16. This genetic effect was not observed in subjects who began daily nicotine use after the age of 16. These results establish a strong mechanistic link among early nicotine exposure, common CHRNA5-A3-B4 haplotypes, and adult nicotine addiction in three independent populations of European origins. The identification of an age-dependent susceptibility haplotype reinforces the importance of preventing early exposure to tobacco through public health policies.
Author Summary
Tobacco use is a global health care problem, and persistent smoking takes an enormous toll on individual health. The onset of daily smoking in adolescence is related to chronic use and severe nicotine dependence in adulthood. Since nicotine is the key addictive chemical in tobacco, we tested the hypothesis that genetic variants within nicotinic acetylcholine receptors will influence the severity of addiction measured in adulthood. Using genomic resequencing to define the patterns of variation found in these candidate genes, we observed that common haplotypes in the CHRNA5-A3-B4 gene cluster are associated with adult nicotine addiction, specifically among those who began daily smoking before age 17. We show that in populations of European origins, one haplotype is a risk factor for dependence, one is protective, and one is neutral. These observations suggest that genetic determinants expressed during human adolescence contribute to the risk of lifetime addiction severity produced from early onset of cigarette use. Because disease risk from the adverse health effects of tobacco smoke is related to lifetime tobacco exposure, the finding that an age-dependent effect of these haplotypes has a strong influence on lifetime smoking behavior reinforces the public health significance of delaying smoking onset.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000125
PMCID: PMC2442220  PMID: 18618000
14.  D8/17 and CD19 Expression on Lymphocytes of Patients with Acute Rheumatic Fever and Tourette's Disorder 
D8/17, an alloantigen found on B lymphocytes, has been reported to be elevated in patients susceptible to rheumatic fever and may be associated with autoimmune types of neuropsychiatric disorders. The pediatric-autoimmune-neuropsychiatric-disorders-associated-with-streptococci model is a putative model of pathogenesis for a group of children whose symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder and Tourette's disorder (TD) are abrupt and may be triggered by an infection with group A streptococci. As a test of this model, we have examined D8/17 levels on the B cells of patients with TD and acute rheumatic fever (ARF) along with those on the B cells of normal controls by flow cytometry. We have utilized several different preparations of D8/17 antibody along with a variety of secondary antibodies but have been unable to show an association with an elevated percentage of D8/17-positive, CD19-positive B cells in either ARF or TD. We did find, however, that the percentages of CD19-positive B cells in ARF and TD patients were significantly elevated compared to those in normal controls. Group A streptococcal pharyngitis patients also had an elevated percentage of CD19 B cells, however. These studies failed to confirm the utility of determining the percentage of B cells expressing the D8/17 alloantigen in ARF patients or our sample of TD patients. In contrast, the percentage of CD19-positive B cells was significantly elevated in ARF and TD patients, as well as group A streptococcal pharyngitis patients, suggesting a role for inflammation and/or autoimmunity in the pathogenesis of these disorders.
doi:10.1128/CDLI.11.2.330-336.2004
PMCID: PMC371196  PMID: 15013984

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