Recurrent de novo (DN) and likely gene-disruptive (LGD) mutations contribute significantly to autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) but have been primarily investigated in European cohorts. Here, we sequence 189 risk genes in 1,543 Chinese ASD probands (1,045 from trios). We report an 11-fold increase in the odds of DN LGD mutations compared with expectation under an exome-wide neutral model of mutation. In aggregate, ∼4% of ASD patients carry a DN mutation in one of just 29 autism risk genes. The most prevalent gene for recurrent DN mutations is SCN2A (1.1% of patients) followed by CHD8, DSCAM, MECP2, POGZ, WDFY3 and ASH1L. We identify novel DN LGD recurrences (GIGYF2, MYT1L, CUL3, DOCK8 and ZNF292) and DN mutations in previous ASD candidates (ARHGAP32, NCOR1, PHIP, STXBP1, CDKL5 and SHANK1). Phenotypic follow-up confirms potential subtypes and highlights how large global cohorts might be leveraged to prove the pathogenic significance of individually rare mutations.
Recurrent sporadic mutations are important risk factors for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) but have been primarily investigated in European cohorts. Here, Eichler, Xia and colleagues analyse risk genes in a large Chinese ASD cohort and find novel recurrences of potential pathogenic significance.
Structural variation (SV) represents a major source of differences between individual human genomes and has been linked to disease phenotypes. However, the majority of studies provide neither a global view of the full spectrum of these variants nor integrate them into reference panels of genetic variation. Here, we analyse whole genome sequencing data of 769 individuals from 250 Dutch families, and provide a haplotype-resolved map of 1.9 million genome variants across 9 different variant classes, including novel forms of complex indels, and retrotransposition-mediated insertions of mobile elements and processed RNAs. A large proportion are previously under reported variants sized between 21 and 100 bp. We detect 4 megabases of novel sequence, encoding 11 new transcripts. Finally, we show 191 known, trait-associated SNPs to be in strong linkage disequilibrium with SVs and demonstrate that our panel facilitates accurate imputation of SVs in unrelated individuals.
Structural variants (SVs) are prevalent in genomes of the general population. Here, Guryev and The Genome of the Netherlands Consortium describe the reference panel of haplotype-resolved SVs from 769 individuals from 250 Dutch families and show its utility for studying heritable traits.
Infantile spasms (IS) and Lennox–Gastaut syndrome (LGS) are epileptic encephalopathies characterized by early onset, intractable seizures, and poor developmental outcomes. De novo sequence mutations and copy number variants (CNVs) are causative in a subset of cases. We used exome sequence data in 349 trios with IS or LGS to identify putative de novo CNVs. We confirm 18 de novo CNVs in 17 patients (4.8%), 10 of which are likely pathogenic, giving a firm genetic diagnosis for 2.9% of patients. Confirmation of exome‐predicted CNVs by array‐based methods is still required due to false‐positive rates of prediction algorithms. Our exome‐based results are consistent with recent array‐based studies in similar cohorts and highlight novel candidate genes for IS and LGS. Ann Neurol 2015;78:323–328
Dual-specificity tyrosine-(Y)-phosphorylation regulated kinase 1A (DYRK1A) maps to the Down syndrome critical region; copy number increase of this gene are thought to play a major role in the neurocognitive deficits associated with Trisomy 21. Truncation of DYRK1A in patients with developmental delay (DD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) suggests a different pathology associated with loss-of-function mutations. To understand the phenotypic spectrum associated with DYRK1A mutations, we resequenced the gene in 7,162 ASD/DD patients (2,446 previously reported) and 2,169 unaffected siblings and performed a detailed phenotypic assessment on nine patients. Comparison of our data and published cases with 8,696 controls identified a significant enrichment of DYRK1A truncating mutations (p = 0.00851) and an excess of de novo mutations (p = 2.53×10−10) among ASD/intellectual disability (ID) patients. Phenotypic comparison of all novel (n = 5) and recontacted (n = 3) cases to previous case reports, including larger CNV and translocation events (n = 7), identifies a syndromal disorder among the 15 patients. It is characterized by ID, ASD, microcephaly, intrauterine growth retardation, febrile seizures in infancy, impaired speech, stereotypic behavior, hypertonia, and a specific facial gestalt. We conclude that mutations in DYRK1A define a syndromic form of ASD and ID with neurodevelopmental defects consistent with murine and Drosophila knockout models.
To assess the relative impact of inherited and de novo variants on autism risk, we generated a comprehensive set of exonic single nucleotide variants (SNVs) and copy number variants (CNVs) from 2,377 autism families. We find that private, inherited truncating SNVs in conserved genes are enriched in probands (odds ratio=1.14, p=0.0002) compared to unaffected siblings, an effect with significant maternal transmission bias to sons. We also observe a bias for inherited CNVs, specifically for small (<100 kbp), maternally inherited events (p=0.01) that are enriched in CHD8 target genes (p=7.4×10−3). Using a logistic regression model, we show that private truncating SNVs and rare, inherited CNVs are statistically independent autism risk factors, with odds ratios of 1.11 (p=0.0002) and 1.23 (p=0.01), respectively. This analysis identifies a second class of candidate genes (e.g., RIMS1, CUL7, and LZTR1) where transmitted mutations may create a sensitized background but are unlikely to be completely penetrant.
Investigations of noninvasive prenatal screening for aneuploidy by analysis of circulating cell-free DNA (cfDNA) have shown high sensitivity and specificity in both high-risk and low-risk cohorts. However, the overall low incidence of aneuploidy limits the positive predictive value of these tests. Currently, the causes of false positive results are poorly understood. We investigated four pregnancies with discordant prenatal test results and found in two cases that maternal duplications on chromosome 18 were the likely cause of the discordant results. Modeling based on population-level copy-number variation supports the possibility that some false positive results of noninvasive prenatal screening may be attributable to large maternal copy-number variants. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and others.)
In order to explore the diversity and selective signatures of duplication and deletion human copy number variants (CNVs), we sequenced 236 individuals from 125 distinct human populations. We observed that duplications exhibit fundamentally different population genetic and selective signatures than deletions and are more likely to be stratified between human populations. Through reconstruction of the ancestral human genome, we identify megabases of DNA lost in different human lineages and pinpoint large duplications that introgressed from the extinct Denisova lineage now found at high frequency exclusively in Oceanic populations. We find that the proportion of CNV base pairs to single nucleotide variant base pairs is greater among non-Africans than it is among African populations, but we conclude that this difference is likely due to unique aspects of non-African population history as opposed to differences in CNV load.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a heterogeneous disease where efforts to define subtypes behaviorally have met with limited success. Hypothesizing that genetically based subtype identification may prove more productive, we resequenced the ASD-associated gene CHD8 in 3,730 children with developmental delay or ASD. We identified a total of 15 independent mutations; no truncating events were identified in 8,792 controls, including 2,289 unaffected siblings. In addition to a high likelihood of an ASD diagnosis among patients bearing CHD8 mutations, characteristics enriched in this group included macrocephaly, distinct faces, and gastrointestinal complaints. chd8 disruption in zebrafish recapitulates features of the human phenotype, including increased head size as a result of expansion of the forebrain/midbrain and impairment of gastrointestinal motility due to a reduction in post-mitotic enteric neurons. Our findings indicate that CHD8 disruptions define a distinct ASD subtype and reveal unexpected comorbidities between brain development and enteric innervation.
Autism spectrum disorder; autism subtypes; dysmorphology; macrocephaly; gastrointestinal defect; zebrafish modeling; enteric neurons; forebrain/midbrain expansion
Copy number variants (CNVs) are associated with many neurocognitive disorders; however, these events are typically large and the underlying causative gene is unclear. We created an expanded CNV morbidity map from 29,085 children with developmental delay versus 19,584 healthy controls, identifying 70 significant CNVs. We resequenced 26 candidate genes in 4,716 additional cases with developmental delay or autism and 2,193 controls. An integrated analysis of CNV and single-nucleotide variant (SNV) data pinpointed ten genes enriched for putative loss of function. Patient follow-up on a subset identified new clinical subtypes of pediatric disease and the genes responsible for disease-associated CNVs. This includes haploinsufficiency of SETBP1 associated with intellectual disability and loss of expressive language and truncations of ZMYND11 in patients with autism, aggression and complex neuropsychiatric features. This combined CNV and SNV approach facilitates the rapid discovery of new syndromes and neuropsychiatric disease genes despite extensive genetic heterogeneity.
Mutations in ADNP were recently identified as a frequent cause of syndromic autism, characterized by deficits in social communication and interaction and restricted, repetitive behavioral patterns. Based on its functional domains, ADNP is a presumed transcription factor. The gene interacts closely with the SWI/SNF complex by direct and experimentally verified binding of its C-terminus to three of its core components. A detailed and systematic clinical assessment of the symptoms observed in our patients allows a detailed comparison with the symptoms observed in other SWI/SNF disorders. While the mutational mechanism of the first 10 patients identified suggested a gain of function mechanism, an 11th patient reported here is predicted haploinsufficient. The latter observation may raise hope for therapy, as addition of NAP, a neuroprotective octapeptide named after the first three amino acids of the sequence NAPVSPIQ, has been reported by others to ameliorate some of the cognitive abnormalities observed in a knockout mouse model. It is concluded that detailed clinical and molecular studies on larger cohorts of patients are necessary to establish a better insight in the genotype phenotype correlation and in the mutational mechanism.
autism; SWI/SNF; BAF complexes; ADNP
Despite a high heritability, a genetic diagnosis can only be established in a minority of patients with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), characterized by persistent deficits in social communication and interaction and restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities1. Known genetic causes include chromosomal aberrations, such as the duplication of the 15q11-13 region, and monogenic causes, such as the Rett and Fragile X syndromes. The genetic heterogeneity within ASD is striking, with even the most frequent causes responsible for only 1% of cases at the most. Even with the recent developments in next generation sequencing, for the large majority of cases no molecular diagnosis can be established 2-7. Here, we report 10 patients with ASD and other shared clinical characteristics, including intellectual disability and facial dysmorphisms caused by a mutation in ADNP, a transcription factor involved in the SWI/SNF remodeling complex. We estimate this gene to be mutated in at least 0.17% of ASD cases, making it one of the most frequent ASD genes known to date.
While EZH2 has been associated with both non small cell and small cell lung cancers, current observations suggest different mechanisms of EZH2 activation and overexpression in these lung cancer types. Globally, small cell lung cancer (SCLC) kills 200,000 people yearly. New clinical approaches for SCLC treatment are required to improve the poor survival rate. Given the therapeutic potential of EZH2 as a target, we sought to delineate the downstream consequences of EZH2 disruption to identify the cellular mechanisms by which EZH2 promotes tumorigenesis in SCLC.
We generated cells with stable expression of shRNA targeting EZH2 and corresponding controls (pLKO.1) and determined the consequences of EZH2 knockdown on the cell cycle and apoptosis by means of propidium iodide staining and fluorescence activated cell sorting, western blot, qRT-PCR as well as cell viability assessment using MTT assays.
We discovered that EZH2 inhibition 1) increased apoptotic activity by up-regulating the pro-apoptotic factors Puma and Bad, 2) decreased the fraction of cells in S or G2/M phases, and 3) elevated p21 protein levels, implicating EZH2 in cell death and cell cycle control in SCLC.
Our findings present evidence for the role of EZH2 in the regulation of cell cycle and apoptosis, providing a biological mechanism to explain the tumorigenicity of EZH2 in SCLC. Our work points to the great potential of EZH2 as a therapeutic target in SCLC.
SCLC; EZH2; oncogene; RB1; E2F
Despite detailed clinical definition and refinement of neurodevelopmental disorders and neuropsychiatric conditions, the underlying genetic etiology has proved elusive. Recent genetic studies have revealed some common themes: considerable locus heterogeneity, variable expressivity for the same mutation, and a role for multiple disruptive events in the same individual affecting genes in common pathways. Recurrent copy number variation (CNV), in particular, has emphasized the importance of either de novo or essentially private mutations creating imbalances for multiple genes. CNVs have foreshadowed a model where the distinction between milder neuropsychiatric conditions from those of severe developmental impairment may be a consequence of increased mutational burden affecting more genes.
copy number variants; variable penetrance; genomic disorders; autism; schizophrenia; intellectual disability
Comparisons of human genomes show that more base pairs are altered as a result of
structural variation — including copy number variation — than as a result of point
mutations. Here we review advances and challenges in the discovery and genotyping of structural
variation. The recent application of massively parallel sequencing methods has complemented
microarray-based methods and has led to an exponential increase in the discovery of smaller
structural-variation events. Some global discovery biases remain, but the integration of
experimental and computational approaches is proving fruitful for accurate characterization of the
copy, content and structure of variable regions. We argue that the long-term goal should be routine,
cost-effective and high quality de novo assembly of human genomes to
comprehensively assess all classes of structural variation.
Although an increasing number of copy-number variations are being identified as susceptibility loci for a variety of pediatric diseases, the penetrance of these copy-number variations remains mostly unknown. This poses challenges for counseling, both for recurrence risks and prenatal diagnosis. We sought to provide empiric estimates for penetrance for some of these recurrent, disease-susceptibility loci.
We conducted a Bayesian analysis, based on the copy-number variation frequencies in control populations (n = 22,246) and in our database of >48,000 postnatal microarray-based comparative genomic hybridization samples. The background risk for congenital anomalies/developmental delay/intellectual disability was assumed to be ~5%. Copy-number variations studied were 1q21.1 proximal duplications, 1q21.1 distal deletions and duplications, 15q11.2 deletions, 16p13.11 deletions, 16p12.1 deletions, 16p11.2 proximal and distal deletions and duplications, 17q12 deletions and duplications, and 22q11.21 duplications.
Estimates for the risk of an abnormal phenotype ranged from 10.4% for 15q11.2 deletions to 62.4% for distal 16p11.2 deletions.
This model can be used to provide more precise estimates for the chance of an abnormal phenotype for many copy-number variations encountered in the prenatal setting. By providing the penetrance, additional, critical information can be given to prospective parents in the genetic counseling session.
copy-number variation; genomic disorder; microarray; penetrance; prenatal diagnosis
Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is a highly aggressive lung neoplasm with extremely poor clinical outcomes and no approved targeted treatments. To elucidate the mechanisms responsible for driving the SCLC phenotype in hopes of revealing novel therapeutic targets, we studied copy number and methylation profiles of SCLC. We found disruption of the E2F/Rb pathway was a prominent feature deregulated in 96% of the SCLC samples investigated and was strongly associated with increased expression of EZH2, an oncogene and core member of the polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2). Through its catalytic role in the PRC2 complex, EZH2 normally functions to epigenetically silence genes during development, however, it aberrantly silences genes in human cancers. We provide evidence to support that EZH2 is functionally active in SCLC tumours, exerts pro-tumourigenic functions in vitro, and is associated with aberrant methylation profiles of PRC2 target genes indicative of a “stem-cell like” hypermethylator profile in SCLC tumours. Furthermore, lentiviral-mediated knockdown of EZH2 demonstrated a significant reduction in the growth of SCLC cell lines, suggesting EZH2 has a key role in driving SCLC biology. In conclusion, our data confirm the role of EZH2 as a critical oncogene in SCLC, and lend support to the prioritization of EZH2 as a potential therapeutic target in clinical disease.
Some copy-number variants are associated with genomic disorders with extreme phenotypic heterogeneity. The cause of this variation is unknown, which presents challenges in genetic diagnosis, counseling, and management.
We analyzed the genomes of 2312 children known to carry a copy-number variant associated with intellectual disability and congenital abnormalities, using array comparative genomic hybridization.
Among the affected children, 10.1% carried a second large copy-number variant in addition to the primary genetic lesion. We identified seven genomic disorders, each defined by a specific copy-number variant, in which the affected children were more likely to carry multiple copy-number variants than were controls. We found that syndromic disorders could be distinguished from those with extreme phenotypic heterogeneity on the basis of the total number of copy-number variants and whether the variants are inherited or de novo. Children who carried two large copy-number variants of unknown clinical significance were eight times as likely to have developmental delay as were controls (odds ratio, 8.16; 95% confidence interval, 5.33 to 13.07; P = 2.11×10−38). Among affected children, inherited copy-number variants tended to co-occur with a second-site large copy-number variant (Spearman correlation coefficient, 0.66; P<0.001). Boys were more likely than girls to have disorders of phenotypic heterogeneity (P<0.001), and mothers were more likely than fathers to transmit second-site copy-number variants to their offspring (P = 0.02).
Multiple, large copy-number variants, including those of unknown pathogenic significance, compound to result in a severe clinical presentation, and secondary copy-number variants are preferentially transmitted from maternal carriers. (Funded by the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative and the National Institutes of Health.)
The genetic basis of neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric diseases has been advanced by the discovery of large and recurrent copy number variants significantly enriched in cases when compared to controls. The pattern of this variation strongly implies that rare variants contribute significantly to neurological disease; that different genes will be responsible for similar diseases in different families; and that the same “primary” genetic lesions can result in a different disease outcome depending potentially on the genetic background. Next-generation sequencing technologies are beginning to broaden the spectrum of disease-causing variation and provide specificity by pinpointing both genes and pathways for future diagnostics and therapeutics.
Breast cancer recurrence (BCR) is a common treatment outcome despite curative-intent primary treatment of non-metastatic breast cancer. Currently used prognostic and predictive factors utilize tumor-based markers, and are not optimal determinants of risk of BCR. Germline-based copy number aberrations (CNAs) have not been evaluated as determinants of predisposition to experience BCR. In this study, we accessed germline DNA from 369 female breast cancer subjects who received curative-intent primary treatment following diagnosis. Of these, 155 experienced BCR and 214 did not, after a median duration of follow up after breast cancer diagnosis of 6.35 years (range = 0.60–21.78) and 8.60 years (range = 3.08–13.57), respectively. Whole genome CNA genotyping was performed on the Affymetrix SNP array 6.0 platform. CNAs were identified using the SNP-Fast Adaptive States Segmentation Technique 2 algorithm implemented in Nexus Copy Number 6.0. Six samples were removed due to poor quality scores, leaving 363 samples for further analysis. We identified 18,561 CNAs with ≥1 kb as a predefined cut-off for observed aberrations. Univariate survival analyses (log-rank tests) identified seven CNAs (two copy number gains and five copy neutral-loss of heterozygosities, CN-LOHs) showing significant differences (P<2.01×10−5) in recurrence-free survival (RFS) probabilities with and without CNAs.We also observed three additional but distinct CN-LOHs showing significant differences in RFS probabilities (P<2.86×10−5) when analyses were restricted to stratified cases (luminal A, n = 208) only. After adjusting for tumor stage and grade in multivariate analyses (Cox proportional hazards models), all the CNAs remained strongly associated with the phenotype of BCR. Of these, we confirmed three CNAs at 17q11.2, 11q13.1 and 6q24.1 in representative samples using independent genotyping platforms. Our results suggest further investigations on the potential use of germline DNA variations as prognostic markers in cancer-associated phenotypes.
It is well established that autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have a strong genetic component. However, for at least 70% of cases, the underlying genetic cause is unknown1. Under the hypothesis that de novo mutations underlie a substantial fraction of the risk for developing ASD in families with no previous history of ASD or related phenotypes—so-called sporadic or simplex families2,3, we sequenced all coding regions of the genome, i.e. the exome, for parent-child trios exhibiting sporadic ASD, including 189 new trios and 20 previously reported4. Additionally, we also sequenced the exomes of 50 unaffected siblings corresponding to these new (n = 31) and previously reported trios (n = 19)4, for a total of 677 individual exomes from 209 families. Here we show de novo point mutations are overwhelmingly paternal in origin (4:1 bias) and positively correlated with paternal age, consistent with the modest increased risk for children of older fathers to develop ASD5. Moreover, 39% (49/126) of the most severe or disruptive de novo mutations map to a highly interconnected beta-catenin/chromatin remodeling protein network ranked significantly for autism candidate genes. In proband exomes, recurrent protein-altering mutations were observed in two genes, CHD8 and NTNG1. Mutation screening of six candidate genes in 1,703 ASD probands identified additional de novo, protein-altering mutations in GRIN2B, LAMC3, and SCN1A. Combined with copy number variant (CNV) data, these results suggest extreme locus heterogeneity but also provide a target for future discovery, diagnostics, and therapeutics.
Advances in high-throughput, genome-wide profiling technologies have allowed for an unprecedented view of the cancer genome landscape. Specifically, high-density microarrays and sequencing-based strategies have been widely utilized to identify genetic (such as gene dosage, allelic status, and mutations in gene sequence) and epigenetic (such as DNA methylation, histone modification, and micro-RNA) aberrations in cancer. Although the application of these profiling technologies in unidimensional analyses has been instrumental in cancer gene discovery, genes affected by low-frequency events are often overlooked. The integrative approach of analyzing parallel dimensions has enabled the identification of (a) genes that are often disrupted by multiple mechanisms but at low frequencies by any one mechanism and (b) pathways that are often disrupted at multiple components but at low frequencies at individual components. These benefits of using an integrative approach illustrate the concept that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. As efforts have now turned toward parallel and integrative multidimensional approaches for studying the cancer genome landscape in hopes of obtaining a more insightful understanding of the key genes and pathways driving cancer cells, this review describes key findings disseminating from such high-throughput, integrative analyses, including contributions to our understanding of causative genetic events in cancer cell biology.
Integrative analysis; Cancer genome; Sequencing; Microarray
For therapeutic purposes, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) has traditionally been regarded as a single disease. However, recent evidence suggest that the two major subtypes of NSCLC, adenocarcinoma (AC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SqCC) respond differently to both molecular targeted and new generation chemotherapies. Therefore, identifying the molecular differences between these tumor types may impact novel treatment strategy. We performed the first large-scale analysis of 261 primary NSCLC tumors (169 AC and 92 SqCC), integrating genome-wide DNA copy number, methylation and gene expression profiles to identify subtype-specific molecular alterations relevant to new agent design and choice of therapy. Comparison of AC and SqCC genomic and epigenomic landscapes revealed 778 altered genes with corresponding expression changes that are selected during tumor development in a subtype-specific manner. Analysis of >200 additional NSCLCs confirmed that these genes are responsible for driving the differential development and resulting phenotypes of AC and SqCC. Importantly, we identified key oncogenic pathways disrupted in each subtype that likely serve as the basis for their differential tumor biology and clinical outcomes. Downregulation of HNF4α target genes was the most common pathway specific to AC, while SqCC demonstrated disruption of numerous histone modifying enzymes as well as the transcription factor E2F1. In silico screening of candidate therapeutic compounds using subtype-specific pathway components identified HDAC and PI3K inhibitors as potential treatments tailored to lung SqCC. Together, our findings suggest that AC and SqCC develop through distinct pathogenetic pathways that have significant implication in our approach to the clinical management of NSCLC.
To understand the genetic heterogeneity underlying developmental delay, we compare copy-number variants (CNVs) in 15,767 children with intellectual disability and various congenital defects to 8,329 adult controls. We estimate that ~14.2% of disease in these individuals is due to large CNVs > 400 kbp. We find greater CNV enrichment in patients with craniofacial anomalies and cardiovascular defects than epilepsy or autism. We identify 59 pathogenic CNVs including 14 novel or previously weakly supported candidates. We refine the critical interval for several genomic disorders such as the 17q21.31 microdeletion syndrome and identify 940 candidate dosage-sensitive genes. We also develop methods to opportunistically discover small, disruptive CNVs within the large and growing diagnostic array datasets. This evolving CNV morbidity map combined with exome/genome sequencing will be critical for deciphering the genetic basis of developmental delay, intellectual disability, and autism spectrum disorders.
While numerous studies have implicated copy number variants (CNVs) in a range of neurological phenotypes, the impact relative to disease severity has been difficult to ascertain due to small sample sizes, lack of phenotypic details, and heterogeneity in platforms used for discovery. Using a customized microarray enriched for genomic hotspots, we assayed for large CNVs among 1,227 individuals with various neurological deficits including dyslexia (376), sporadic autism (350), and intellectual disability (ID) (501), as well as 337 controls. We show that the frequency of large CNVs (>1 Mbp) is significantly greater for ID–associated phenotypes compared to autism (p = 9.58×10−11, odds ratio = 4.59), dyslexia (p = 3.81×10−18, odds ratio = 14.45), or controls (p = 2.75×10−17, odds ratio = 13.71). There is a striking difference in the frequency of rare CNVs (>50 kbp) in autism (10%, p = 2.4×10−6, odds ratio = 6) or ID (16%, p = 3.55×10−12, odds ratio = 10) compared to dyslexia (2%) with essentially no difference in large CNV burden among dyslexia patients compared to controls. Rare CNVs were more likely to arise de novo (64%) in ID when compared to autism (40%) or dyslexia (0%). We observed a significantly increased large CNV burden in individuals with ID and multiple congenital anomalies (MCA) compared to ID alone (p = 0.001, odds ratio = 2.54). Our data suggest that large CNV burden positively correlates with the severity of childhood disability: ID with MCA being most severely affected and dyslexics being indistinguishable from controls. When autism without ID was considered separately, the increase in CNV burden was modest compared to controls (p = 0.07, odds ratio = 2.33).
Deletions and duplications, termed copy number variants (CNVs), have been implicated in a variety of neurodevelopmental disorders including intellectual disability (ID), autism, and schizophrenia. Our understanding of the relevance of large, rare CNVs in a range of neurodevelopmental phenotypes, varying in severity and prevalence, has been difficult because these studies were restricted to the analysis of one disorder at a time using different CNV detection platforms, insufficient sample sizes, and a lack of detailed clinical information. We tested 1,227 individuals with different neurological diseases including dyslexia, autism, and ID using the same CNV detection platform. We observed striking differences in CNV burden and inheritance characteristics among these cohorts and show that ID is the primary correlate of large CNV burden. This correlation is well illustrated by a comparison of autism patients with and without ID—where the latter show only modest increases in large CNV burden compared to controls. We also find significant depletion in the frequency of large CNVs in dyslexia compared to the other cohorts. Further studies on larger sets of individuals using high-resolution arrays and next-generation sequencing are warranted for a detailed understanding of the relative contribution of genetic variants to neurodevelopmental disorders.