negative association findings in autism


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(Updated 8/29/04)

Ingram JL, Stodgell CJ, Hyman SL, Figlewicz DA, Weitkamp LR, Rodier PM
Discovery of allelic variants of HOXA1 and HOXB1: genetic susceptibility to autism spectrum disorders.
Teratology. 2000 Dec;62(6):393-405.
BACKGROUND: Family studies have demonstrated that the autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) have a major genetic etiologic component, but expression and penetrance of the phenotype are variable. Mice with null mutations of Hoxa1 or Hoxb1, two genes critical to hindbrain development, have phenotypic features frequently observed in autism, but no naturally occurring variants of either gene have been identified in mammals. METHODS: By sequencing regions of genomic DNA of patients with autism spectrum disorders, we detected a substitution variant at HOXA1 and an insertion variant at HOXB1, both in coding regions of the genes. Fifty-seven individuals ascertained for a diagnosis of an ASD, along with 166 of their relatives, were typed for these variants. Two non-ASD populations were typed, and the frequency of the newly identified alleles was determined in all groups. The genotypes of the ASD families were tested for conformation to Hardy-Weinberg proportions and Mendelian expectations for gene transmission. RESULTS: The frequency of the variants was 10-25% in persons of European or African origin. In the ASD families, there was a significant deviation from the HOXA1 genotype ratios expected from Hardy-Weinberg proportions (P = 0.005). Among affected offspring, a significant deviation from Mendelian expectation in gene transmission (P = 0.011) was observed. No statistically significant effects were detected when the same analyses were applied to the HOXB1 locus, but there was evidence of an interaction between HOXA1, HOXB1, and gender in susceptibility to ASDs. CONCLUSIONS: The results support a role for HOXA1 in susceptibility to autism, and add to the existing body of evidence implicating early brain stem injury in the etiology of ASDs. [Abstract]

Gallagher L, Hawi Z, Kearney G, Fitzgerald M, Gill M
No association between allelic variants of HOXA1/HOXB1 and autism.
Am J Med Genet. 2004 Jan 1;124B(1):64-7.
Two recent studies have reported conflicting findings of association of a variant in the HOXA1 gene and autism. To try to resolve the conflict in findings, we conducted an association study in 78 Irish families of the reported DNA variants. We did not find statistically significant association between the variants and autism. Similarly there was no evidence of preferential transmission of variants from parent of either sex to affected offspring. We also report negative findings for HOXB1 variants. We conclude that the HOXA1/B1 are unlikely to be the susceptibility genes for autism in our sample. [Abstract]

Collins JS, Schroer RJ, Bird J, Michaelis RC
The HOXA1 A218G polymorphism and autism: lack of association in white and black patients from the South Carolina Autism Project.
J Autism Dev Disord. 2003 Jun;33(3):343-8.
A recent study has suggested that the A218G polymorphism in the homeobox A1 (HOXA1) gene may influence susceptibility to autism. We have determined the frequencies of the A and G alleles of the HOXA1 A218G polymorphism in both white and black patients from the South Carolina Autism Project (SCAP) and controls. Marked differences were found in allele frequencies between the races, but no deviations from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium were seen in either white or black SCAP family members. More direct tests, comparing genotype frequencies between probands and controls and tracking transmission of the A versus G alleles to affected offspring, did not support the contention that allele status for the HOXA1 A218G polymorphism influences one's susceptibility to autism. [Abstract]

Talebizadeh Z, Bittel DC, Miles JH, Takahashi N, Wang CH, Kibiryeva N, Butler MG
No association between HOXA1 and HOXB1 genes and autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
J Med Genet. 2002 Nov;39(11):e70. [Abstract]

Devlin B, Bennett P, Cook EH, Dawson G, Gonen D, Grigorenko EL, McMahon W, Pauls D, Smith M, Spence MA, Schellenberg GD
No evidence for linkage of liability to autism to HOXA1 in a sample from the CPEA network.
Am J Med Genet. 2002 Aug 8;114(6):667-72.
A recent study by Ingram et al. [2000b: Teratology 62:393-405] suggests a (His)73(Arg) polymorphism (A:G) in HOXA1 contributes substantially to a liability for autism. Using 68 individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders, they found a significant dearth of G homozygotes and biased transmission of G alleles from parents to affected offspring, especially from mothers. Because the connection between HOXA1 and liability to autism is compelling, we attempted to replicate their finding using a larger, independent sample from the Collaborative Programs of Excellence in Autism (CPEA) network. In our data, genotype frequencies conform to Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium; allele transmissions meet Mendelian expectations; and there is no obvious sex-biased allele transmission. Based on our sample size, calculations suggest that we would have at least 95% power to detect linkage and association even if the A:G polymorphism were to account for only 1% of the heritability of autism. Therefore, although we cannot exclude the possibility that the samples in the two studies are intrinsically different, our data from our sample argue against a major role for HOXA1 (His)73(Arg) in liability to autism. [Abstract]

Li J, Tabor HK, Nguyen L, Gleason C, Lotspeich LJ, Spiker D, Risch N, Myers RM
Lack of association between HoxA1 and HoxB1 gene variants and autism in 110 multiplex families.
Am J Med Genet. 2002 Jan 8;114(1):24-30.
A recent report suggested that the HoxA1 and/or HoxB1 genes play a role in susceptibility to autism. To determine whether these findings could be confirmed, we screened these genes for DNA polymorphisms by sequencing all exons in 24 individuals with autism. We identified the same sequence variants in the genes that appeared in this report, which include one single-base substitution variant in HoxA1 and a common haplotype in HoxB1. We performed an association study by applying the transmission disequilibrium test to detect possible association of these variants to autism in 110 multiplex families. Our results demonstrated no deviation from the null hypothesis of no association. We have also separately examined transmissions within individual mating types, for paternal versus maternal alleles, to affected versus unaffected children, and for transmission to affected boys versus girls. None of these subsets revealed significant deviation from the null expectation. Our interpretation of these findings is that it is unlikely that HoxA1 and HoxB1 play a significant role in the genetic predisposition to autism. [Abstract]

Conciatori M, Stodgell CJ, Hyman SL, O'Bara M, Militerni R, Bravaccio C, Trillo S, Montecchi F, Schneider C, Melmed R, Elia M, Crawford L, Spence SJ, Muscarella L, Guarnieri V, D'Agruma L, Quattrone A, Zelante L, Rabinowitz D, Pascucci T, Puglisi-Allegra S, Reichelt KL, Rodier PM, Persico AM
Association between the HOXA1 A218G polymorphism and increased head circumference in patients with autism.
Biol Psychiatry. 2004 Feb 15;55(4):413-9.
BACKGROUND: The HOXA1 gene plays a major role in brainstem and cranial morphogenesis. The G allele of the HOXA1 A218G polymorphism has been previously found associated with autism. METHODS: We performed case-control and family-based association analyses, contrasting 127 autistic patients with 174 ethnically matched controls, and assessing for allelic transmission disequilibrium in 189 complete trios. RESULTS: A, and not G, alleles were associated with autism using both case-control (chi(2) = 8.96 and 5.71, 1 df, p <.005 and <.025 for genotypes and alleles, respectively), and family-based (transmission/disequilibrium test chi(2) = 8.80, 1 df, p <.005) association analyses. The head circumference of 31 patients carrying one or two copies of the G allele displayed significantly larger median values (95.0th vs. 82.5th percentile, p <.05) and dramatically reduced interindividual variability (p <.0001), compared with 166 patients carrying the A/A genotype. CONCLUSIONS: The HOXA1 A218G polymorphism explains approximately 5% of the variance in the head circumference of autistic patients and represents to our knowledge the first known gene variant providing sizable contributions to cranial morphology. The disease specificity of this finding is currently being investigated. Nonreplications in genetic linkage/association studies could partly stem from the dyshomogeneous distribution of an endophenotype morphologically defined by cranial circumference. [Abstract]

Poon PM, Chen QL, Lai KY, Wong CK, Pang CP
CGG repeat interruptions in the FMR1 gene in patients with infantile autism.
Clin Chem Lab Med. 1998 Aug;36(8):649-53.
We determined the CGG repeat length and AGG interruptions in the FMR1 gene in normal Chinese subjects and patients with infantile autism and mild mental retardation. Genomic DNA was investigated by PCR and Southern hybridisation for CGG repeat number and PCR with Mnl I restriction analysis for AGG interruption. Both the normal subjects and the patients with autism have 53 CGG repeats in FMR1, and the majority have two interspersed AGG. Our normal Chinese subjects have a similar number of interspersed AGG as other populations. When compared with the normal subjects, the autism patients have less AGG interruptions and a different pattern of AGG distribution. There was a significant difference in the CGG configurations between normal subjects and patients with autism. The latter had less interspersed AGG, as in fragile X patients, but they did not have fragile X. A study on mentally retarded patients with no infantile autism should also be carried out to ascertain whether mental retardation alone may have contributed to such AGG pattern. [Abstract]

Shinahara K, Saijo T, Mori K, Kuroda Y
Single-strand conformation polymorphism analysis of the FMR1 gene in autistic and mentally retarded children in Japan.
J Med Invest. 2004 Feb;51(1-2):52-8.
Fragile X syndrome is one of the most common causes of mental retardation in males, and patients with fragile X syndrome occasionally develop autism. It is usually caused by an expansion of the trinucleotide repeat in the 5'-untranslated region of the FMR1 gene, but in a small number of patients deletions and point mutations have been identified. We screened all 17 exons of the FMR1 gene for mutations in 90 autistic or mentally retarded children using polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-single strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) analysis. No mutations were found in 76 male patients. However, one female patient was heterozygous for a normal allele and a mutant allele with an A to C substitution at nucleotide 879 in exon 9. This mutation was not found in 50 controls. Reverse transcription-PCR revealed that a large proportion of the mutant transcripts were spliced aberrantly, causing premature termination of the protein synthesis. Although uncommon, point mutations in the FMR1 gene may be a cause of autism and mental retardation in Japanese patients. [Abstract]

Vincent JB, Konecki DS, Munstermann E, Bolton P, Poustka A, Poustka F, Gurling HM
Point mutation analysis of the FMR-1 gene in autism.
Mol Psychiatry. 1996 Jul;1(3):227-31.
We have analysed all 17 exons of the human FMR-1 gene for mutations in autistic individuals using single-stranded conformational polymorphism (SSCP) analysis. We have identified three new polymorphisms. SSCP DNA fragment shifts were found for exons, 5, 10 and 11 in autistic individuals and in normal controls. Sequence analysis showed the exon 10 and 11 polymorphisms to result from base substitutions within introns, 14 and 73 bp downstream from the splice site respectively. In exon 5, a G to A base substitution at codon 138 has no effect on amino acid sequence. The intronic polymorphism adjacent to exon 10 was analysed amongst two groups of unrelated autistic individuals-one from the UK and one from Germany- and amongst a control population. Comparison of allele frequencies between Caucasian autism cases and Caucasian controls show a significant increase in the presence of the polymorphic intronic sequence 3' to exon 10 (Fisher's exact test, P = 0.01). The base change is at a position where it is unlikely to affect splicing of the FMR-1 transcript and is most likely a neutral variant that has only a spurious false positive association with autism. However further linkage disequilibrium analyses are justifiable. The positive association with autism should be explored in further samples to determine whether it has any validity as a genetic marker for autism. [Abstract]

Vincent JB, Thevarkunnel S, Kolozsvari D, Paterson AD, Roberts W, Scherer SW
Association and transmission analysis of the FMR1 IVS10 + 14C-T variant in autism.
Am J Med Genet. 2004 Feb 15;125B(1):54-6.
Evidence from the high male to female ratio of individuals with autism as well as suggestive linkage data have implicated the possible involvement of X chromosomal loci in the aetiology of autism. Studies of the FMR1 gene on Xq27 have shown that occasionally individuals, and particularly females, with the [CGG] repeat expansion and methylation mutation may present with autistic symptoms. However, molecular studies suggest that such mutations are not a major cause of autism. Previously, we have screened autism probands for mutations in regions of the FMR1 gene downstream of the [CGG] repeat and identified an intronic variant in the FMR1 gene, IVS10 + 14C-T, which was present at a significantly higher frequency in autistic individuals compared to controls individuals. We have now investigated this variant in a further 136 autism families and 186 control individuals. We have established that the variant is significantly more frequent among East Asian individuals within our affected and control groups (P < 0.0001) and although we observed a trend of higher transmission frequency of the rare allele to affected individuals, there was no significant evidence in either family-based or case/control association studies for this variant in autism (P > 0.05). [Abstract]

Klauck SM, Münstermann E, Bieber-Martig B, Rühl D, Lisch S, Schmötzer G, Poustka A, Poustka F
Molecular genetic analysis of the FMR-1 gene in a large collection of autistic patients.
Hum Genet. 1997 Aug;100(2):224-9.
A genetic etiology in autism is now strongly supported by family and twin studies. A 3:1 ratio of affected males to females suggests the involvement of at least one X-linked locus in the disease. Several reports have indicated an association of the fragile X chromosomal anomaly at Xq27.3 (FRAXA) with autism, whereas others have not supported this finding. We have so far collected blood from 105 simplex and 18 multiplex families and have assessed 141 patients by using the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R), the Autism Diagnostic Observation Scale, and psychometric tests. All four ADI-R algorithm criteria were met by 131 patients (93%), whereas 10 patients (7%) showed a broader phenotype of autism. Southern blot analysis was performed with three different enzymes, and filters were hybridized to an FMR-1-specific probe to detect amplification of the CCG repeat at FRAXA, to the complete FMR-1 cDNA probe, and to additional probes from the neighborhood of the gene. No significant changes were found in 139 patients (99%) from 122 families, other than the normal variations in the population. In the case of one multiplex family with three children showing no dysmorphic features of the fragile X syndrome (one male meeting 3 out of 4 ADI-algorithm criteria, one normal male with slight learning disability but negative ADI-R testing, and one fully autistic female), the FRAXA full-mutation-specific CCG-repeat expansion in the genotype was not correlated with the autism phenotype. Further analysis revealed a mosaic pattern of methylation at the FMR-1 gene locus in the two sons of the family, indicating at least a partly functional gene. Therefore, we conclude that the association of autism with fragile X at Xq27.3 is non-existent and exclude this location as a candidate gene region for autism. [Abstract]

Holden JJ, Wing M, Chalifoux M, Julien-Inalsingh C, Schutz C, Robinson P, Szatmari P, White BN
Lack of expansion of triplet repeats in the FMR1, FRAXE, and FRAXF loci in male multiplex families with autism and pervasive developmental disorders.
Am J Med Genet. 1996 Aug 9;64(2):399-403.
Sib, twin, and family studies have shown that a genetic cause exists in many cases of autism, with a portion of cases associated with a fragile X chromosome. Three folate-sensitive fragile sites in the Xq27-->Xq28 region have been cloned and found to have polymorphic trinucleotide repeats at the respective sites; these repeats are amplified and methylated in individuals who are positive for the different fragile sites. We have tested affected boys and their mothers from 19 families with two autistic/PDD boys for amplification and/or instability of the triplet repeats at these loci and concordance of inheritance of alleles by affected brothers. In all cases, the triplet repeat numbers were within the normal range, with no individuals having expanded or premutation-size alleles. For each locus, there was no evidence for an increased frequency of concordance, indicating that mutations within these genes are unlikely to be responsible for the autistic/PDD phenotypes in the affected boys. Thus, we think it is important to retest those autistic individuals who were cytogenetically positive for a fragile X chromosome, particularly cases where there is no family history of the fragile X syndrome, using the more accurate DNA-based testing procedures. [Abstract]

Hallmayer J, Pintado E, Lotspeich L, Spiker D, McMahon W, Petersen PB, Nicholas P, Pingree C, Kraemer HC, Wong DL
Molecular analysis and test of linkage between the FMR-1 gene and infantile autism in multiplex families.
Am J Hum Genet. 1994 Nov;55(5):951-9.
Approximately 2%-5% of autistic children show cytogenetic evidence of the fragile X syndrome. This report tests whether infantile autism in multiplex autism families arises from an unusual manifestion of the fragile X syndrome. This could arise either by expansion of the (CGG)n trinucleotide repeat in FMR-1 or from a mutation elsewhere in the gene. We studied 35 families that met stringent criteria for multiplex autism. Amplification of the trinucleotide repeat and analysis of methylation status were performed in 79 autistic children and in 31 of their unaffected siblings, by Southern blot analysis. No examples of amplified repeats were seen in the autistic or control children or in their parents or grandparents. We next examined the hypothesis that there was a mutation elsewhere in the FMR-1 gene, by linkage analysis in 32 of these families. We tested four different dominant models and a recessive model. Linkage to FMR-1 could be excluded (lod score between -24 and -62) in all models by using probes DXS548, FRAXAC1, and FRAXAC2 and the CGG repeat itself. Tests for heterogeneity in this sample were negative, and the occurrence of positive lod scores in this data set could be attributed to chance. Analysis of the data by the affected-sib method also did not show evidence for linkage of any marker to autism. These results enable us to reject the hypothesis that multiplex autism arises from expansion of the (CGG)n trinucleotide repeat in FMR-1. [Abstract]

Meyer GA, Blum NJ, Hitchcock W, Fortina P
Absence of the fragile X CGG trinucleotide repeat expansion in girls diagnosed with a pervasive developmental disorder.
J Pediatr. 1998 Sep;133(3):363-5.
The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of the fragile X (FRAX) CGG trinucleotide expansion in a population of young girls (n = 45) diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder (PDD). Their mean age was 43.7 months (range, 25 to 132 months). Diagnoses included autistic disorder (n = 20), PDD (n = 23), and Asperger's syndrome (n = 2). Molecular FRAX testing was performed on all patients by using the Southern gene blot technique. Genomic DNA was digested with both EcoRI and EagI, fractionated on agarose gel, and blotted and probed with the radiolabeled StB12.3 FMR-1 probe. None of the subjects were found to have an expansion of CGG in either the 2.8 kb or 5.2 kb fragments. A 95% CI, for the prevalence of the FRAX mutation in female subjects with PDD, has an upper bound of 2.9%. We conclude that the prevalence of FRAX positivity in girls with PDD is lower than previously reported. This raises the question of whether any association between FRAX and PDD in female subjects is specific to PDD or is related rather to the presence of mental retardation. [Abstract]

Payton JB, Steele MW, Wenger SL, Minshew NJ
The fragile X marker and autism in perspective.
J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1989 May;28(3):417-21.
Recent reports link the fragile X chromosome abnormality to autism, with the association ranging from 0 to 53%, but the diagnostic criteria for autism were unclear in some of the studies. The need for fragile X chromosome studies in larger populations of autistic children and adults was recognized. In this study, chromosome analyses were performed on 85 carefully diagnosed autistic males, yielding a 2.4% incidence of the fragile X abnormality. It is concluded that the incidence of the fragile X chromosome abnormality in autistic individuals is likely the same as that in the mentally retarded male population and therefore does not increase the risk for autism above that of mental retardation itself. [Abstract]

Bailey A, Bolton P, Butler L, Le Couteur A, Murphy M, Scott S, Webb T, Rutter M
Prevalence of the fragile X anomaly amongst autistic twins and singletons.
J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 1993 Jul;34(5):673-88.
Early screening studies of autistic individuals suggested that up to one-quarter of cases were associated with the Fragile X anomaly. Recent studies find that the usual behavioural phenotype of the Fragile X anomaly is distinct from autism as usually defined, and that a variety of methodological factors contribute to the variability of the prevalence estimates. We report the prevalence of the Fragile X anomaly, using strict cytogenetic criteria, in a large sample of autistic individuals whose diagnosis was confirmed using a standardised diagnostic instrument. The anomaly was detected in 1.6% of tested autistic individuals from a combined sample of: autistic twins; clinic attenders; and, individuals from families multiplex for autism or related cognitive phenotypes. The anomaly was not detected in greater than 2.5% of any of the constituent samples and accounted for only a small proportion of the genetic influences amongst concordant twins and multiplex families. The anomaly was detected in 5% of the 40 tested autistic females, confirming reports that the prevalence of the anomaly is similar amongst autistic individuals of both sexes. [Abstract]

Gurling HM, Bolton PF, Vincent J, Melmer G, Rutter M
Molecular and cytogenetic investigations of the fragile X region including the Frax A and Frax E CGG trinucleotide repeat sequences in families multiplex for autism and related phenotypes.
Hum Hered. 1997 Sep-Oct;47(5):254-62.
We undertook molecular and cytogenetic analyses in 25 families multiplex for autism and related disorders. Three of the multiplex families exhibited fragile X, and the affected offspring all exhibited CGG triplet repeat insertion mutations in the FMR-1 gene. One of these families contained an affected pair of monozygotic female twins. Both had similar-sized CGG triplet repeat expansions, but different phenotypic manifestations. One suffered from autism and the other from mild mental retardation and marked social anxiety. PCR and Southern hybridization analysis of the CGG repeat sequences characterizing fragile X A (Frax A) and E and the methylation status of FMR-1 showed no evidence of abnormal CGG repeat expansion or FMR-1 hypermethylation in the remaining 22 multiplex families. Moreover, there was no correlation between the Frax A or E (CGG)n repeat length with affected status, nor any association with the low-level (< 3 %) expression of cytogenetic fragility at Xq27 previously reported in these families. Our findings indicate that most instances of recurrence in families multiplex for autism and related disorders are not accounted for by Frax A and E. They also indicate that the phenotypic manifestations of Frax A may be influenced by stochastic, environmental and other biological factors. [Abstract]

Hessl D, Dyer-Friedman J, Glaser B, Wisbeck J, Barajas RG, Taylor A, Reiss AL
The influence of environmental and genetic factors on behavior problems and autistic symptoms in boys and girls with fragile X syndrome.
Pediatrics. 2001 Nov;108(5):E88.
OBJECTIVE: Fragile X syndrome, caused by mutations in a single gene of the X chromosome (FMR1), is associated with neurobehavioral characteristics including social deficits with peers, social withdrawal, gaze aversion, inattention, hyperactivity, anxiety, depression, and autistic behavior. However, there is considerable variability in the behavioral and psychiatric problems among children with this condition. The purpose of this study was to measure genetic and environmental factors influencing behavior problems and autistic symptoms in children with fragile X syndrome. DESIGN: We conducted an in-home evaluation of 120 children (80 boys and 40 girls) with the fragile X full mutation and their unaffected siblings, including measurements of the FMR1 protein (FMRP), quality of the home environment, maternal and paternal psychopathology, effectiveness of educational and therapeutic services, and child behavior problems. RESULTS: Results of multiple regression analyses showed that for boys with fragile X, effectiveness of educational and therapeutic services and parental psychological problems predicted internalizing and externalizing types of problems, while the quality of the home environment predicted autistic behavior. For girls with fragile X, the results emphasized significant effects of FMRP on behavior, in particular social withdrawal and anxious/depressed behavior. CONCLUSIONS: These findings are among the first to link FMRP expression to behavior. They also emphasize the significance of home- and school-based environmental variables in the neurobehavioral phenotype and help to lay the foundation for studies designed to identify specific interventions for reducing problem behavior in children with fragile X syndrome. [Abstract]

Sudhalter V, Cohen IL, Silverman W, Wolf-Schein EG
Conversational analyses of males with fragile X, Down syndrome, and autism: comparison of the emergence of deviant language.
Am J Ment Retard. 1990 Jan;94(4):431-41.
Deviant, repetitive language of 33 males (9 with Down syndrome, 12 with fragile X (fra[X]) syndrome, and 12 with autism) was analyzed within three conversational contexts: direct responses, initiation of new material, and topic maintenance. Results indicated that males with fra(X) manifest deviant, repetitive language that is distinct from males with either Down syndrome or autism. Thus, the deviant repetitive language of males with fra(X) cannot be accounted for by either their level of adaptive functioning or autistic-like behaviors per se. Possible explanations for this etiologically specific language deviance were discussed. [Abstract]

Einfeld S, Molony H, Hall W
Autism is not associated with the fragile X syndrome.
Am J Med Genet. 1989 Oct;34(2):187-93.
We provided a controlled test of the hypothesis that individuals with the Martin-Bell or Fragile X [fra(x)] syndrome are more autistic than mentally retarded control individuals. A sample of fra(x) individuals was obtained from the register of a clinical genetics unit and compared with mentally retarded control individuals selected from an assessment centre who were individually matched for age, sex, and IQ. A comparison of 45 pairs of fra(x) cases and control individuals on the DSM-III (R) criteria for autism and two standardized "instruments" for the assessment of autism (ABC and ADC) failed to find a higher prevalence of autism among fra(x) individuals. There was no statistically significant difference between fra(x) individuals and control individuals, and the mean differences on both the ABC and ADC scales were in the direction contrary to the hypothesis. An analysis of the study's statistical power suggested that it is unlikely the investigation failed to detect a large to medium difference between fra(x) individuals and control individuals in autistic behaviour. Subsidiary analyses of case-control differences showed that two autistic-like behaviours occurred at a higher rate among fra(x) individuals than other mentally retarded children, namely, gaze avoidance and hand flapping. These abnormalities may have misled clinicians into thinking that autism and fra(x) are associated. [Abstract]

Cohen IL, Vietze PM, Sudhalter V, Jenkins EC, Brown WT
Parent-child dyadic gaze patterns in fragile X males and in non-fragile X males with autistic disorder.
J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 1989 Nov;30(6):845-56.
Parent-child dyadic gaze patterns were examined in fragile X [fra(X)] males and in non-fra(X) autistic males across three age groups--early childhood, middle childhood and adolescence. Absolute probabilities of social gaze did not significantly differ across diagnostic groups. Event lag sequential analyses indicated that fra(X) males were sensitive to social gaze initiation by their parents but found eye contact aversive. Non-fra(X) autistic males, by contrast, were insensitive to parent-initiated social gaze, and did not find eye contact aversive. Implications for research on the social characteristics of fra(X) and autistic children are discussed. [Abstract]

Cohen IL, Fisch GS, Sudhalter V, Wolf-Schein EG, Hanson D, Hagerman R, Jenkins EC, Brown WT
Social gaze, social avoidance, and repetitive behavior in fragile X males: a controlled study.
Am J Ment Retard. 1988 Mar;92(5):436-46.
Preference for social gaze as well as the percentage occurrence of social gaze, nonverbal social avoidance, and nonverbal repetitive behaviors were examined in autistic and nonautistic prepubertal males with the fragile X syndrome (fra[X]) during social interaction with a parent or stranger. Comparison groups were nonhandicapped, Down syndrome, atypical pervasive developmental disorder, and autistic males. The subjects with fra(X) and the nonhandicapped and Down syndrome control subjects discriminated parent from stranger as evidenced by their avoidance behavior. The overall percentage of avoidance was higher, however, for both parent and stranger, among the males with fra(X). Autistic and atypical groups without fra(X) failed to discriminate parent from stranger in their avoidance behavior. Possible explanations for these group differences in terms of language level or degree of language demand were ruled out. Implications for research concerning the relations among fra(X), autism, and mental retardation were discussed. [Abstract]

Bailey DB, Hatton DD, Skinner M, Mesibov G
Autistic behavior, FMR1 protein, and developmental trajectories in young males with fragile X syndrome.
J Autism Dev Disord. 2001 Apr;31(2):165-74.
In the context of a longitudinal study, we assessed the relationship between ratings of autistic behavior, FMR1 protein expression (FMRP), and the developmental trajectories of 55 young males with fragile X syndrome. Autistic behavior, as measured by the Childhood Autism Rating Scale, was not related to FMRP expression. However, autistic behavior was a significant predictor of both developmental status and developmental change. Boys with both autistic behavior and fragile X syndrome functioned at significantly lower levels of development and grew at significantly slower rates than those without autistic behavior. FMRP expression accounted for less variance in developmental level than did autistic behavior, and was not significantly related to slope (developmental change over time). No autistic behavior x FMRP interaction was found. [Abstract]

Wong VC, Lam ST
Fragile X positivity in Chinese children with autistic spectrum disorder.
Pediatr Neurol. 1992 Jul-Aug;8(4):272-4.
Chromosome analysis was performed in 105 Chinese children (96 boys, 9 girls) with autistic spectrum disorder to assess fragile X positivity. Seventy percent of these autistic children were mentally retarded. None of the children in the infantile autism group (N = 75) had fragile X positivity. Two boys in the autistic condition group (N = 30) had clinical features and chromosomal positivity for fragile X syndrome. The low (2%) prevalence rate of fragile X positivity in children with different degrees of expressivity of autistic features may be related to other factors rather than to pure autistic characteristics per se. [Abstract]

Madokoro H, Ohdo S, Sonoda T, Ohba K, Tanaka H, Hayakawa K
Infantile autism and the fragile X syndrome in Japanese children.
Acta Paediatr Jpn. 1989 Apr;31(2):163-5.
A total of 97 children with infantile autism, 85 boys and 12 girls, were screened for the fragile X chromosome. They ranged in age from 2 to 14 years with an average of 5 5/12 years. There were two fra(X) positive boys and no such girls. [Abstract]

Matsuishi T, Shiotsuki Y, Niikawa N, Katafuchi Y, Otaki E, Ando H, Yamashita Y, Horikawa M, Urabe F, Kuriya N
Fragile X syndrome in Japanese patients with infantile autism.
Pediatr Neurol. 1987 Sep-Oct;3(5):284-7.
Forty-seven patients (39 boys and 8 girls) with infantile autism whose clinical symptoms had matched the diagnostic criteria of DSM III were studied cytogenetically for the occurrence of fragile X [fra(X)] syndrome. The existence of fra(X) chromosome in these patients was screened first by culturing peripheral blood lymphocytes in a medium in which folic acid was absent; the fra(X) chromosome then was confirmed by reculturing in another medium to which 5-fluoro-2'-deoxyuridine was added for the last 24 hours of culture. Fra(X) chromosome was found in 2 of 39 male patients, but in none of the female patients; the 2 patients are siblings. Thus, fra(X) syndrome occurs in 2.6% (1/38) in this study population of male autistic children. The frequencies of fra(X) expression in the older brother with mild mental retardation, in the more severely retarded younger brother, and in their mother were 3-5%, 17-20%, and 9-3%, respectively. Of the two methods used in the present study, the method employing 5-fluoro-2'-deoxyuridine tended to be more sensitive to fra(X) chromosome detection, especially for a suspected carrier. [Abstract]

Wahlström J, Gillberg C, Gustavson KH, Holmgren G
Infantile autism and the fragile X. A Swedish multicenter study.
Am J Med Genet. 1986 Jan-Feb;23(1-2):403-8.
In a Swedish multicenter study of 122 cases of infantile autism, 16 boys (13%) were found to be fragile (X) (q27) positive. None of the 21 girls studied were fragile (X) positive. [Abstract]

Li SY, Chen YC, Lai TJ, Hsu CY, Wang YC
Molecular and cytogenetic analyses of autism in Taiwan.
Hum Genet. 1993 Nov;92(5):441-5.
Karyotypic and DNA analyses were both performed on 104 autistic children referred from Taichung Autism Education Academy and Tainan Autism Association in Taiwan. The frequency of fragile sites of the autistic patients did not differ significantly from that of the normal individuals. Of the 12 autistic children with chromosomal abnormalities, 8 had the fragile X, 2 had Down syndrome, and the remaining had other aneuploid constitutions. The results of this study illustrate the contribution of chromosomal abnormalities or variants to the pathogenesis of infantile autism. [Abstract]

Fisch GS, Cohen IL, Jenkins EC, Brown WT
Screening developmentally disabled male populations for fragile X: the effect of sample size.
Am J Med Genet. 1988 May-Jun;30(1-2):655-63.
The fra(X) or Martin-Bell syndrome is the most common cause of inherited mental retardation (MR) in males. It is also associated with a variety of unusual behavioral and developmental disorders. Recent studies found great variability in the estimated strength of association between "autism" and the fra(X) syndrome, but not between MR and fra(X). We examined 31 studies which investigated the association of fra(X) syndrome with either MR or "autism" and found that the conclusion of those researchers could be significantly affected by sample size. Different behavioral and cytogenetic protocols will also influence the strength of association between fra(X) and autism. [Abstract]

Bonora E, Bacchelli E, Levy ER, Blasi F, Marlow A, Monaco AP, Maestrini E
Mutation screening and imprinting analysis of four candidate genes for autism in the 7q32 region.
Mol Psychiatry. 2002;7(3):289-301.
Genetic studies indicate that chromosome 7q is likely to contain an autism susceptibility locus (AUTS1). We have followed a positional candidate gene approach to identify the relevant gene and report the analysis of four adjacent genes localised to a 800 kb region in 7q32 that contains an imprinted domain: PEG1/MEST, COPG2, CPA1 and CPA5-a previously uncharacterised member of the carboxypeptidase gene family. Screening these genes for DNA changes and association analysis using intragenic single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) provided no evidence for an etiological role in IMGSAC families. We also searched for imprinting mutations potentially implicated in autism: analysis of both DNA methylation and replication timing indicated a normal imprinting regulation of the PEG1/COPG2 domain in blood lymphocytes of all patients tested. The analysis of these four genes strongly suggests that they do not play a major role in autism aetiology, and delineates our strategy to screen additional candidate genes in the AUTS1 locus. [Abstract]

Vincent JB, Petek E, Thevarkunnel S, Kolozsvari D, Cheung J, Patel M, Scherer SW
The RAY1/ST7 tumor-suppressor locus on chromosome 7q31 represents a complex multi-transcript system.
Genomics. 2002 Sep;80(3):283-94.
We recently identified a novel gene, RAY1 (FAM4A1), which spans a translocation breakpoint at 7q31 in a patient with autism. This gene has more recently been reported to be a suppressor of tumorigenicity, ST7, although controversy surrounds this observation because subsequent reports have failed to corroborate these findings. Our further analysis of this locus reveals that it is composed of a multigene system that includes two noncoding sense strand genes (ST7OT3 and ST7OT4) that overlap with many alternative forms of the coding RAY1/ST7 transcript, and two noncoding genes on the antisense strand (ST7OT1 and ST7OT2). RAY1/ST7 was determined to have at least three different 5' exons with alternative start codons, one of which seems to be used almost exclusively in the brain. We have also identified a third alternative 3' end of RAY1/ST7 that uses exons from ST7OT3. ST7OT3 spans from intron 10 to exon 14 of RAY1/ST7 and includes several exons. ST7OT4 has at least seven exons and is transcribed on the sense strand between RAY1/ST7 exon 1 and a tropomyosin-like sequence, TPM3L2. ST7OT1 overlaps with the RAY1/ST7 exon 1 and promoter. ST7OT2 spans from RAY1/ST7 intron 9 to intron 1, and has multiple isoforms. We screened the exons of RAY1/ST7 and ST7OT1-3 for sequence variants in 90 unrelated autism probands and identified several rare variants, including a Ile361Val substitution. Although these variants were not observed in a control population, it is unclear whether they contribute to the autistic phenotype. We postulate that the apparent noncoding genes at the RAY1/ST7 locus may be regulatory RNAs. The RAY1/ST7 may generate at least 18 possible isoforms, with many more arising if other sense-strand exons from ST7OT3 and ST7 OT4 are used in a selective and possibly tissue-specific manner. [Abstract]

Vincent JB, Herbrick JA, Gurling HM, Bolton PF, Roberts W, Scherer SW
Identification of a novel gene on chromosome 7q31 that is interrupted by a translocation breakpoint in an autistic individual.
Am J Hum Genet. 2000 Aug;67(2):510-4.
The results of genetic linkage studies for autism have suggested that a susceptibility locus for the disease is located on the long arm of chromosome 7 (7q). An autistic individual carrying a translocation, t(7;13)(q31.3;q21), with the chromosome 7 breakpoint located in the region of 7q implicated by genetic studies was identified. A novel gene known as "RAY1" (or "FAM4A1") was found to be directly interrupted by the translocation breakpoint. The gene, which was found to be encoded by 16 exons with evidence of alternative splicing, spanned > or =220 kb of DNA at 7q31.3. Mutation screening of the entire coding region in a set of 27 unrelated autistic individuals failed to identify phenotype-specific variants, suggesting that coding region mutations are unlikely to be involved in the etiology of autism. Apparent homologues of RAY1 have also been identified in mouse, rat, pig, chicken, fruit fly, and nematode. The human and mouse genes share similar splicing patterns, and their predicted protein products are 98% identical. [Abstract]

Beyer KS, Klauck SM, Benner A, Poustka F, Poustka A
Association studies of the HOPA dodecamer duplication variant in different subtypes of autism.
Am J Med Genet. 2002 Jan 8;114(1):110-5.
The HOPA gene in Xq13 is coding for a protein involved in a nuclear thyroid receptor complex. Previous studies suggested association of the dodecamer duplication in the OPA-repeat region in exon 43 (according to the genomic database sequence) with autism, mental retardation, and schizophrenia/hypothyroidism. We determined the frequency of this 12 bp duplication variant in a sample of 155 patients divided in different subtypes of autism, 278 parents of those patients, and 157 control individuals. The allele frequency of the duplication variant was not significantly different between autistic patients, their parents, and the control group. Therefore, it is unlikely that this 12 bp duplication variant of the HOPA gene has major relevance to the susceptibility to different subtypes of autism at least in this German patient sample. In addition, we identified a third variant with a 15 bp deletion in the OPA-repeat region, recently described by another group, in one autistic patient. This third allele was also present in the patient's nonautistic mother and sister, who are heterozygous for this variant, but could not be detected in any other individual genotyped in this study. Expression analysis revealed transcription of all three allelic variants in lymphoblastoid cell lines. Furthermore, we identified a new splice variant that utilizes an additional 9 bp of the 3' intron subsequent to exon 39. Both alternative transcripts are coexpressed in all fetal and adult tissues examined. [Abstract]

Michaelis RC, Copeland-Yates SA, Sossey-Alaoui K, Skinner C, Friez MJ, Longshore JW, Simensen RJ, Schroer RJ, Stevenson RE
The HOPA gene dodecamer duplication is not a significant etiological factor in autism.
J Autism Dev Disord. 2000 Aug;30(4):355-8.
A recent study has suggested that a dodecamer duplication in the HOPA gene in Xq13 may occur in a significant portion of male patients with autism. We have determined the incidence of this duplication in 202 patients from the South Carolina Autism Study. The incidence of the duplication was not significantly different between patients and controls. Three of the female patients inherited the duplication from nonautistic fathers. In addition, there was no systematic skewing of X inactivation in the female patients with the duplication, or in nonautistic mothers and sisters with the duplication. These findings suggest that the dodecamer duplication in the HOPA gene does not play a significant role in the etiology of autism. [Abstract]

Zhang H, Liu X, Zhang C, Mundo E, Macciardi F, Grayson DR, Guidotti AR, Holden JJ
Reelin gene alleles and susceptibility to autism spectrum disorders.
Mol Psychiatry. 2002;7(9):1012-7.
A polymorphic trinucleotide repeat (CGG/GCC) within the human Reelin gene (RELN) was examined as a candidate gene for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). This gene encodes a large extracellular matrix protein that orchestrates neuronal positioning during corticogenesis. The CGG-repeat within the 5' untranslated region of RELN exon 1 was examined in 126 multiple-incidence families. The number of CGG repeats varied from three to 16 in affected individuals and controls, with no expansion or contraction observed during maternal (n = 291) or paternal (n = 287) transmissions in families with autistic probands. Although the frequencies of the RELN alleles and genotypes in affected children were not different from those in the comparison group, a family-based association test (FBAT) showed that the larger RELN alleles (> or = 11 repeats) were transmitted more often than expected to affected children (S = 43, E(S) = 34.5, P = 0.035); this was particularly the case for the 13-repeat RELN allele (S = 22, E(S) = 16, P = 0.034). Affected sib-pair (ASP) analysis found no evidence of excess sharing of RELN alleles in affected siblings. The impact of genotypes with large alleles (> or = 11 repeats) on the phenotypes in individuals with ASD was analyzed by ANOVA in a subset of the families for which results of the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised were available. Children with large RELN alleles did not show any difference in scores for questions related to the core symptoms of autistic disorder, but there was a tendency for children with at least one large RELN allele to have an earlier age at first phrase (chi(2) = 3.538, P = 0.06). Thus, although the case-control and affected sib-pair findings did not support a role for RELN in susceptibility to ASD, the more powerful family-based association study demonstrated that RELN alleles with larger numbers of CGG repeats may play a role in the etiology of some cases of ASD, especially in children without delayed phrase speech. [Abstract]

Persico AM, D'Agruma L, Maiorano N, Totaro A, Militerni R, Bravaccio C, Wassink TH, Schneider C, Melmed R, Trillo S, Montecchi F, Palermo M, Pascucci T, Puglisi-Allegra S, Reichelt KL, Conciatori M, Marino R, Quattrocchi CC, Baldi A, Zelante L, Gasparini P, Keller F
Reelin gene alleles and haplotypes as a factor predisposing to autistic disorder.
Mol Psychiatry. 2001 Mar;6(2):150-9.
Autistic disorder (MIM 209850) is currently viewed as a neurodevelopmental disease. Reelin plays a pivotal role in the development of laminar structures including the cerebral cortex, hippocampus, cerebellum and of several brainstem nuclei. Neuroanatomical evidence is consistent with Reelin involvement in autistic disorder. In this study, we describe several polymorphisms identified using RNA-SSCP and DNA sequencing. Association and linkage were assessed comparing 95 Italian patients to 186 ethnically-matched controls, and using the transmission/disequilibrium test and haplotype-based haplotype relative risk in 172 complete trios from 165 families collected in Italy and in the USA. Both case-control and family-based analyses yield a significant association between autistic disorder and a polymorphic GGC repeat located immediately 5' of the reelin gene (RELN) ATG initiator codon, as well as with specific haplotypes formed by this polymorphism with two single-base substitutions located in a splice junction in exon 6 and within exon 50. Triplet repeats located in 5' untranslated regions (5'UTRs) are indicative of strong transcriptional regulation. Our findings suggest that longer triplet repeats in the 5'UTR of the RELN gene confer vulnerability to autistic disorder. [Abstract]

Li J, Nguyen L, Gleason C, Lotspeich L, Spiker D, Risch N, Myers RM
Lack of evidence for an association between WNT2 and RELN polymorphisms and autism.
Am J Med Genet. 2004 Apr 1;126B(1):51-7.
Autism is a pervasive neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in language development and social interaction, as well as stereotypical, repetitive behaviors. The etiology of autism is largely unknown. Family and twin studies have provided compelling evidence for a strong genetic component in most idiopathic cases. Several recent candidate gene studies have suggested that alleles of WNT2 and the reelin gene (RELN), two genes involved in distinct aspects of neurodevelopment, confer greater susceptibility to autism. We screened WNT2 for DNA polymorphisms by sequencing all exons and adjacent intronic regions in 24 autistic patients, and identified not only the WNT2 variants reported previously (two common single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the 5' upstream region and the 3' untranslated region (UTR), respectively), but also two new SNPs in its 3' UTR. We genotyped all four WNT2 polymorphisms and a polymorphic trinucleotide repeat in the 5' UTR of RELN in 107 families with multiple autistic children, and evaluated evidence for association between these variants and autism by the transmission disequilibrium test (TDT). Our results revealed no deviation from the null hypothesis of no association. Our interpretation of these findings is that it is unlikely that DNA variations in RELN and WNT2 play a significant role in the genetic predisposition to autism. [Abstract]

McCoy PA, Shao Y, Wolpert CM, Donnelly SL, Ashley-Koch A, Abel HL, Ravan SA, Abramson RK, Wright HH, DeLong GR, Cuccaro ML, Gilbert JR, Pericak-Vance MA
No association between the WNT2 gene and autistic disorder.
Am J Med Genet. 2002 Jan 8;114(1):106-9.
Autistic disorder is a pervasive neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in language and social communication, as well as stereotyped patterns of behavior. Peak LOD scores from several genomic screening efforts indicate the presence of an autistic disorder susceptibility locus within the distal long arm of human chromosome 7 (7q31-q35). Wassink et al. [2001: Am J Med Genet 105:406-413] reported that WNT2, located at 7q31, influences genetic risk in autistic disorder. These findings were enhanced when examined in a subset of families with severe language impairment. WNT genes encode secreted growth factor-like proteins that participate in growth regulation, differentiation, and tumorigenesis. We tested for genetic association of two WNT2 variants in an independent data set of 135 singleton and 82 multiplex families. No significant association was found between autistic disorder and the WNT2 genotypes in either the overall data set or in the language-impaired subset of families. However, differences in allele frequencies of the 3' UTR single nucleotide polymorphism between the present population and that of Wassink et al. may account for the inability to detect association between WNT2 and autistic disorder in the present data set. We also screened the two reported autistic disorder mutations previously detected by Wassink et al. We did not identify any activating mutation in the coding region of the WNT2 gene. Thus, we conclude that activating mutations of the WNT2 gene are not a major contributor to the development of autistic disorder in these data. [Abstract]

Wassink TH, Piven J, Vieland VJ, Huang J, Swiderski RE, Pietila J, Braun T, Beck G, Folstein SE, Haines JL, Sheffield VC
Evidence supporting WNT2 as an autism susceptibility gene.
Am J Med Genet. 2001 Jul 8;105(5):406-13.
We examined WNT2 as a candidate disease gene for autism for the following reasons. First, the WNT family of genes influences the development of numerous organs and systems, including the central nervous system. Second, WNT2 is located in the region of chromosome 7q31-33 linked to autism and is adjacent to a chromosomal breakpoint in an individual with autism. Third, a mouse knockout of Dvl1, a member of a gene family essential for the function of the WNT pathway, exhibits a behavioral phenotype characterized primarily by diminished social interaction. We screened the WNT2 coding sequence for mutations in a large number of autistic probands and found two families containing nonconservative coding sequence variants that segregated with autism in those families. We also identified linkage disequilibrium (LD) between a WNT2 3'UTR SNP and our sample of autism-affected sibling pair (ASP) families and trios. The LD arose almost exclusively from a subgroup of our ASP families defined by the presence of severe language abnormalities and was also found to be associated with the evidence for linkage to 7q from our previously published genomewide linkage screen. Furthermore, expression analysis demonstrated WNT2 expression in the human thalamus. Based on these findings, we hypothesize that rare mutations occur in the WNT2 gene that significantly increase susceptibility to autism even when present in single copies, while a more common WNT2 allele (or alleles) not yet identified may exist that contributes to the disorder to a lesser degree. [Abstract]

Devlin B, Bennett P, Dawson G, Figlewicz DA, Grigorenko EL, McMahon W, Minshew N, Pauls D, Smith M, Spence MA, Rodier PM, Stodgell C, Schellenberg GD
Alleles of a reelin CGG repeat do not convey liability to autism in a sample from the CPEA network.
Am J Med Genet. 2004 Apr 1;126B(1):46-50.
A recent study by Persico et al. [2001: Mol Psychiatry 6:150-159] suggests alleles of a CGG polymorphism, just 5' of the reelin gene (RELN) initiator codon, confer liability for autism, especially alleles bearing 11 or more CGG repeats (long alleles). The association is consistent across both a case-control and family-based sample. We attempted to replicate their finding using a larger, independent family-based sample from the NIH Collaborative Programs of Excellence in Autism (CPEA) Network. In our data, allele transmissions to individuals with autism versus unaffected individuals are unbiased, both when alleles are classified by repeat length and when they are classified into long/short categories. Because of the apparent linkage of autism to chromosome 7q, particularly related to the development of language, we also evaluate the relationship between Reelin alleles and the age at which autism subjects use their first word or first phrase. Neither is significantly associated with Reelin alleles. Our results are not consistent with a major role for Reelin alleles in liability to autism. [Abstract]

Bonora E, Beyer KS, Lamb JA, Parr JR, Klauck SM, Benner A, Paolucci M, Abbott A, Ragoussis I, Poustka A, Bailey AJ, Monaco AP
Analysis of reelin as a candidate gene for autism.
Mol Psychiatry. 2003 Oct;8(10):885-92.
Genetic studies indicate that chromosome 7q is likely to contain an autism susceptibility locus (AUTS1). We have followed a positional candidate gene approach to identify relevant gene(s) and report here the analysis of reelin (RELN), a gene located under our peak of linkage. Screening RELN for DNA changes identified novel missense variants absent in a large control group; however, the low frequency of these mutations does not explain the relatively strong linkage results on 7q. Furthermore, analysis of a previously reported triplet repeat polymorphism and intragenic single nucleotide polymorphisms, using the transmission disequilibrium test, provided no evidence for association with autism in IMGSAC and German singleton families. The analysis of RELN suggests that it probably does not play a major role in autism aetiology, although further analysis of several missense mutations is warranted in additional affected individuals. [Abstract]

Krebs MO, Betancur C, Leroy S, Bourdel MC, Gillberg C, Leboyer M
Absence of association between a polymorphic GGC repeat in the 5' untranslated region of the reelin gene and autism.
Mol Psychiatry. 2002;7(7):801-4.
Autism is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder with severe cognitive and communication disabilities, that has a strong genetic predisposition. Reelin, a protein involved in neuronal migration during development, is encoded by a gene located on 7q22, within the candidate region on 7q showing increased allele sharing in previous genome scans. A case/control and family-based association study recently reported a positive association between a trinucleotide repeat polymorphism (GGC) located in the 5' untranslated region (UTR) of the reelin gene and autism. We performed a transmission disequilibrium test (TDT) analysis of the 5'UTR polymorphism in 167 families including 218 affected subjects (117 trios and 50 affected sib pairs) and found no evidence of linkage/association. Our results do not support previous findings and suggest that this GGC polymorphism of the reelin gene is unlikely to be a major susceptibility factor in autism and/or genetic heterogeneity. [Abstract]

Tordjman S, Gutknecht L, Carlier M, Spitz E, Antoine C, Slama F, Carsalade V, Cohen DJ, Ferrari P, Roubertoux PL, Anderson GM
Role of the serotonin transporter gene in the behavioral expression of autism.
Mol Psychiatry. 2001 Jul;6(4):434-9.
The promoter polymorphism of the serotonin transporter gene (HTT, locus SLC6A4) is of special interest in autism given the well-replicated platelet hyperserotonemia of autism, treatment effects of serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and the role of serotonin in limbic functioning and neurodevelopment. Parent-offspring transmission of the long (l) and short (s) alleles of the deletion/insertion polymorphism in the HTT promoter region was examined in families of 71 children with autism using the transmission test for linkage disequilibrium (TDT). Transmission of HTT promoter alleles did not differ between probands with autism and their unaffected siblings. However, allelic transmission in probands was dependent upon severity of impairments in the social and communication domains, with greater s allele transmission in severely impaired individuals and greater l transmission in mild/moderately impaired individuals. This relationship between HTT promoter alleles and severity of autistic impairment was also seen when ratings of social and communication behaviors were compared across genotypes. The data indicate that HTT promoter alleles by themselves do not convey risk for autism, but, rather, modify the severity of autistic behaviors in the social and communication domains. The results require replication and, given the size of the groups and subgroups examined, must be considered still preliminary. The results suggest that future research on the genetics of autism should carefully assess each of the major behavioral domains and seriously consider the possible role of modifying loci. [Abstract]

Conroy J, Meally E, Kearney G, Fitzgerald M, Gill M, Gallagher L
Serotonin transporter gene and autism: a haplotype analysis in an Irish autistic population.
Mol Psychiatry. 2004 Jun;9(6):587-93.
The role of the serotonin transporter (5-HTT) in the development of neuropsychiatric disorders has been widely investigated. Two polymorphisms, an insertion/deletion in the promoter region and a 12 repeat allele in a variable nucleotide tandem repeat (VNTR) in intron 2, drive higher expression of the 5-HTT gene. Four studies have shown nominally significant excess transmission of alleles of the 5-HTT gene in autism, while three studies have reported no excess transmission. This present study investigates the role of 5-HTT in the genetically homogenous Irish population. In all, 84 families were genotyped for five polymorphisms (three SNPs, a VNTR and an in/del). The analysis of allele transmissions using the transmission disequilibrium test (TDT) was undertaken and indicated preferential transmission of the short promoter allele (TDT P-value=0.0334). Linkage disequilibrium between markers was calculated and haplotypes were assessed for excess transmission and odds ratios (ORs) to affected children. A number of haplotypes, especially those involving and surrounding SNP10, showed evidence of association. The ORs ranged from 1.2 to 2.4. The most significant haplotype associated with transmission to affected probands was the SNP10-VNTR-SNP18 haplotype (chi(2)=7.3023, P=0.0069, odds ratio=1.8). This haplotype included the 12 repeat allele of the VNTR, which is associated with increased expression and may play a subtle role in the early development of the brain in affected probands. [Abstract]

Kim SJ, Cox N, Courchesne R, Lord C, Corsello C, Akshoomoff N, Guter S, Leventhal BL, Courchesne E, Cook EH
Transmission disequilibrium mapping at the serotonin transporter gene (SLC6A4) region in autistic disorder.
Mol Psychiatry. 2002;7(3):278-88.
The serotonin transporter gene (SLC6A4, MIM 182138) is a candidate gene in autistic disorder based on neurochemical, neuroendocrine studies and the efficacy of potent serotonin transporter inhibitors in reducing ritualistic behaviors and related aggression. An insertion/deletion polymorphism (5-HTTLPR) in the promoter region and a variable number of tandem repeat polymorphism (VNTR) in the second intron, were previously identified and suggested to modulate transcription. Six previous family-based association studies of SLC6A4 in autistic disorder have been conducted, with four studies showing nominally significant transmission disequilibrium and two studies with no evidence of nominally significant transmission disequilibrium. In the present study, TDT was conducted in 81 new trios. A previous finding of transmission disequilibrium between a haplotype consisting of the 5-HTTLPR and intron 2 VNTR was replicated in this study, but not preferential transmission of 5-HTTLPR as an independent marker. Because of inconsistent transmission of 5-HTTLPR across studies, SLC6A4 and its flanking regions were sequenced in 10 probands, followed by typing of 20 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and seven simple sequence repeat (SSR) polymorphisms in 115 autism trios. When individual markers were analyzed by TDT, seven SNP markers and four SSR markers (six SNPs, 5-HTTLPR and the second intron VNTR from promoter 1A through intron 2 of SLC6A4, one SSR from intron 7 of SLC6A4, one SNP from the bleomycin hydrolase gene (BLMH, MIM 602403) and one SSR telomeric to BLMH) showed nominally significant evidence of transmission disequilibrium. Four markers showed stronger evidence of transmission disequilibrium (TDT(max) P = 0.0005) than 5-HTTLPR. [Abstract]

Betancur C, Corbex M, Spielewoy C, Philippe A, Laplanche JL, Launay JM, Gillberg C, Mouren-Siméoni MC, Hamon M, Giros B, Nosten-Bertrand M, Leboyer M
Serotonin transporter gene polymorphisms and hyperserotonemia in autistic disorder.
Mol Psychiatry. 2002;7(1):67-71.
Previous studies have provided conflicting evidence regarding the association of the serotonin transporter (5-HTT) gene with autism. Two polymorphisms have been identified in the human 5-HTT gene, a VNTR in intron 2 and a functional deletion/insertion in the promoter region (5-HTTLPR) with short and long variants. Positive associations of the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism with autism have been reported by two family-based studies, but one found preferential transmission of the short allele and the other of the long allele. Two subsequent studies failed to find evidence of transmission disequilibrium at the 5-HTTLPR locus. These conflicting results could be due to heterogeneity of clinical samples with regard to serotonin (5-HT) blood levels, which have been found to be elevated in some autistic subjects. Thus, we examined the association of the 5-HTTLPR and VNTR polymorphisms of the 5-HTT gene with autism, and we investigated the relationship between 5-HTT variants and whole-blood 5-HT. The transmission/disequilibrium test (TDT) revealed no linkage disequilibrium at either loci in a sample of 96 families comprising 43 trios and 53 sib pairs. Furthermore, no significant relationship between 5-HT blood levels and 5-HTT gene polymorphisms was found. Our results suggest that the 5-HTT gene is unlikely to play a major role as a susceptibility factor in autism. [Abstract]

Coutinho AM, Oliveira G, Morgadinho T, Fesel C, Macedo TR, Bento C, Marques C, Ataíde A, Miguel T, Borges L, Vicente AM
Variants of the serotonin transporter gene (SLC6A4) significantly contribute to hyperserotonemia in autism.
Mol Psychiatry. 2004 Mar;9(3):264-71.
The role of the serotonin system in the etiology and pathogenesis of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is not clearly defined. High levels of platelet serotonin (5-HT) have been consistently found in a proportion of patients, and it is known that specific 5-HT transporter gene (SLC6A4) variants modulate transporter reuptake function, therefore possibly influencing the occurrence of hyperserotonemia in a subset of autistic patients. We have examined the association of platelet serotonin levels with two SLC6A4 polymorphisms, 5-HTT gene-linked polymorphic region (HTTLPR) in the promoter and intron 2 variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR), in a sample of 105 ASD patients, their parents, and 52 control children. Quantitative transmission disequilibrium test (QTDT) results showed a significant effect on 5-HT levels of each SLC6A4 marker (P=0.017 for HTTLPR; P=0.047 for intron 2 VNTR) and of haplotypes of the two markers (P=0.017), with a major contribution of the L.Stin2.10 haplotype (P=0.0013). A 5-HT mean value in the range of hyperserotonemia was associated with the homozygous L.Stin2.10 haplotype (H (1,N=97)=7.76, P=0.0054), which occurred in 33% of hyperserotonemic patients against 6% of patients with normal 5-HT levels (Fisher's exact test: P=0.013, OR=8). Allele interaction at the HTTLPR locus was found, with a significant dominance variance effect on 5-HT levels. We found no transmission disequilibrium of any of the SLC6A4 variants in ASD. Our results show that the SLC6A4 gene is a significant factor in the determination of 5-HT levels, and that specific SLC6A4 variants are associated with an increased risk for hyperserotonemia in our sample of autistic patients. The biological mechanism, however, is unlikely to involve the SLC6A4 gene solely. The associated SLC6A4 alleles likely interact with other genes or environmental factors to produce the abnormally high 5-HT levels observed in this subset of autistic patients, who possibly represent a separate etiological group. [Abstract]

Persico AM, Pascucci T, Puglisi-Allegra S, Militerni R, Bravaccio C, Schneider C, Melmed R, Trillo S, Montecchi F, Palermo M, Rabinowitz D, Reichelt KL, Conciatori M, Marino R, Keller F
Serotonin transporter gene promoter variants do not explain the hyperserotoninemia in autistic children.
Mol Psychiatry. 2002;7(7):795-800.
Autism is a biologically-heterogeneous disease. Distinct subgroups of autistic patients may be marked by intermediate phenotypes, such as elevated serotonin (5-HT) blood levels, potentially associated with different underlying disease mechanisms. This could lead to inconsistent genetic association results, such as those of prior studies on serotonin transporter (5-HTT) gene promoter variants and autistic disorder. Contributions of 5-HTT gene promoter alleles to 5-HT blood levels were thus investigated in 134 autistic patients and 291 first-degree relatives. Mean 5-HT blood levels are 11% higher in autistic patients carrying the L/L genotype, compared to patients with the S/S or S/L genotype; this trend is not observed in first-degree relatives. The probability of inheriting L or S alleles is significantly enhanced in patients with 5-HT blood levels above or below the mean, respectively (P < 0.05), but quantitative TDT analyses yield a non-significant trend (P = 0.10), as this polymorphism explains only 2.5% of the variance in 5-HT blood levels of autistic patients. In conclusion, 5-HTT gene promoter variants seemingly exert a small effect on 5-HT blood levels in autistic children, which largely does not account for hyperserotoninemia. Nonetheless, the inconsistent outcome of prior association studies could partly stem from a selection bias of hyper- or hypo-serotoninemic probands. [Abstract]

Anderson GM, Gutknecht L, Cohen DJ, Brailly-Tabard S, Cohen JH, Ferrari P, Roubertoux PL, Tordjman S
Serotonin transporter promoter variants in autism: functional effects and relationship to platelet hyperserotonemia.
Mol Psychiatry. 2002;7(8):831-6.
The well-replicated platelet hyperserotonemia of autism has stimulated interest in serotonin (5-HT) in autism. We have examined the effects of the serotonin transporter gene (5-HTT, locus SLC6A4) promoter polymorphism (5-HTTLPR) on platelet 5-HT physiology in autism. Platelet 5-HT uptake rates and affinities (V(max) and K(m)), uptake site densities (B(max)) and 5-HT levels were examined in 31 French individuals with autism genotyped with respect to the 5-HTTLPR. Platelet 5-HT uptake and 5-HT levels were measured using HPLC; uptake sites were determined by radioligand binding. A 1.5-fold increased rate (V(max)) of platelet 5-HT uptake was observed in ll genotype individuals compared to those with ls and ss genotypes (Mann- Whitney U-test, P = 0.022). However, no significant relationship was observed between genotype and uptake site density (U-test, P = 0.51). Although median levels of platelet 5-HT in platelet-rich plasma were higher in the ll group, only trend level significance was observed (U-test, P= 0.069); platelet 5-HT content measured in whole blood was similar across genotypes. Uptake rates were well correlated with B(max) values (r = 0.66, P = 0.002); correlations between uptake and platelet 5-HT levels and between B(max) values and 5-HT levels were somewhat lower. While 5-HTTLPR alleles had an appreciable effect on platelet 5-HT uptake rates, effects on 5-HT levels and uptake site density were smaller or absent. Based on these preliminary data and prior studies of allele frequencies, we conclude that the 5-HTTLPR is not a major determinant of the group mean platelet serotonin elevation seen in autism. However, a role for increased uptake in the hyperserotonemia of autism can not be ruled out. In addition, it appears that studies of platelet 5-HT measures in autism and other disorders should take account of the effects of 5-HTTLPR genotype on 5-HT uptake [Abstract]

Yirmiya N, Pilowsky T, Nemanov L, Arbelle S, Feinsilver T, Fried I, Ebstein RP
Evidence for an association with the serotonin transporter promoter region polymorphism and autism.
Am J Med Genet. 2001 May 8;105(4):381-6.
We have examined three functional polymorphisms, serotonin transporter promoter region polymorphism (5-HTTLPR), dopamine D4 exon III repeat region (DRD4), and catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT), in a small family-based design toward identifying candidate genes that confer risk for autism. A significant excess of the long/long 5-HTTLPR genotype was observed (likelihood ratio = 7.18; P = 0.027; 2 df; n = 33 families) as well as preferential transmission of the long allele of the 5-HTTLPR (TDT chi-square = 5.44; P<0.025; 1 df). No association was observed between the COMT and DRD4 polymorphisms and autism in this sample. Some previous studies have observed linkage between autism and the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism and the current results are similar to those first reported by Klauck et al. [1997: Hum Genet 100:224-229; 1997: Hum Mol Genet 6:2233-2238]. Additionally, elevated serotonin levels have been consistently found in 30%-50% of autistic patients and may represent a marker for familial autism. Hyperserotonemia in autism appears to be due to enhanced 5-HT uptake, as free 5-HT levels are normal and the current report of an excess of the long/long 5-HTTLPR genotype in autism could provide a partial molecular explanation for high platelet serotonin content in autism. [Abstract]

Zhong N, Ye L, Ju W, Brown WT, Tsiouris J, Cohen I
5-HTTLPR variants not associated with autistic spectrum disorders.
Neurogenetics. 1999 Apr;2(2):129-31.
To determine whether there is an association of polymorphic variants of the serotonin transporter (5-HTT) gene-linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR) and autistic spectrum disorders, we analyzed the 5-HTTLPR genotypes of 72 autistic subjects, 11 fragile X syndrome patients with autistic behavior, 43 normal subjects, and 49 fragile X syndrome non-autistic subjects. The distribution frequency of 5-HTTLPR long allele (L) and the short allele (S) variants showed no differences between subjects. Our findings do not support the hypothesis that polymorphic 5-HTTLPR variants are a susceptibility factor for autistic disorders. [Abstract]

Cook EH, Courchesne R, Lord C, Cox NJ, Yan S, Lincoln A, Haas R, Courchesne E, Leventhal BL
Evidence of linkage between the serotonin transporter and autistic disorder.
Mol Psychiatry. 1997 May;2(3):247-50.
The serotonin transporter gene (HTT) is a primary candidate in autistic disorder based on efficacy of potent serotonin transporter inhibitors in reducing rituals and routines. We initiated a candidate gene study of HTT in trios consisting of probands with autistic disorder and both parents. Preliminary transmission/disequilibrium test (TDT) analysis with 86 families revealed no evidence for linkage or linkage disequilibrium between autistic disorder and a polymorphism in the second intron of HTT. However, preferential transmission of a short variant of the HTT promoter was found in the same 86 trios (TDT chi 2 = 4.69, 1 d.f., P = 0.030). In further analyses, we considered haplotypes of the HTT promoter variant and second intron locus as alleles in a multiallelic TDT. Results confirmed the significance of the effect of this region (TDT chi 2 = 11.85, 4 d.f., P = 0.018). This provides preliminary evidence of linkage and association between HTT and autistic disorder. [Abstract]

Persico AM, Militerni R, Bravaccio C, Schneider C, Melmed R, Conciatori M, Damiani V, Baldi A, Keller F
Lack of association between serotonin transporter gene promoter variants and autistic disorder in two ethnically distinct samples.
Am J Med Genet. 2000 Feb 7;96(1):123-7.
Family-based studies performed to date provide conflicting evidence of linkage/association between autistic disorder and either the "short" [Cook et al., 1997: Mol Psychiatry 2:247-250] or the "long" [Klauck et al., 1997: Hum Mol Genet 6:2233-2238] allele of a polymorphic repeat located in the serotonin transporter (5-HTT) gene promoter region, affecting 5-HTT gene expression [Lesch et al., 1996: Science 274:1527-1531]. The present study was designed to assess linkage and linkage disequilibrium in two new ethnically distinct samples of families with primary autistic probands. The 5-HTT promoter repeat was genotyped in 54 singleton families collected in Italy and in 32 singleton and 5 multiplex families collected in the U.S.A., yielding a total sample of 98 trios. Linkage/association between 5-HTT gene promoter alleles and autistic disorder was assessed using the transmission/disequilibrium test (TDT) and the haplotype-based haplotype relative risk (HHRR). Both the Italian and the American samples, either singly or combined, displayed no evidence of linkage/association between 5-HTT gene promoter alleles and autistic disorder. Our findings do not support prominent contributions of 5-HTT gene variants to the pathogenesis of idiopathic infantile autism. Heterogeneity in pathogenetic mechanisms underlying the disease may require that linkage/association studies be targeted toward patient subgroups isolated on the basis of specific biochemical markers, such as serotonin (5-HT) blood levels. [Abstract]

Maestrini E, Lai C, Marlow A, Matthews N, Wallace S, Bailey A, Cook EH, Weeks DE, Monaco AP
Serotonin transporter (5-HTT) and gamma-aminobutyric acid receptor subunit beta3 (GABRB3) gene polymorphisms are not associated with autism in the IMGSA families. The International Molecular Genetic Study of Autism Consortium.
Am J Med Genet. 1999 Oct 15;88(5):492-6.
Previous studies have suggested that the serotonin transporter (5-HTT) gene and the gamma-aminobutyric acid receptor subunit beta3 (GABRB3) gene, or other genes in the 15q11-q13 region, are possibly involved in susceptibility to autism. To test this hypothesis we performed an association study on the collection of families from the International Molecular Genetic Study of Autism (IMGSA) Consortium, using the transmission disequilibrium test. Two polymorphisms in the 5-HTT gene (a functional insertion-deletion polymorphism in the promoter and a variable number tandem repeat in the second intron) were examined in 90 families comprising 174 affected individuals. Furthermore, seven microsatellite markers spanning the 15q11-q13 region were studied in 94 families with 182 affected individuals. No significant evidence of association or linkage was found at any of the markers tested, indicating that the 5-HTT and the GABRB3 genes are unlikely to play a major role in the aetiology of autism in our family data set. [Abstract]

Klauck SM, Poustka F, Benner A, Lesch KP, Poustka A
Serotonin transporter (5-HTT) gene variants associated with autism?
Hum Mol Genet. 1997 Dec;6(13):2233-8.
An association study was performed to elucidate the role of the serotonin transporter (5-HTT) gene as a susceptibility factor for autism as treatment of patients with antidepressant drugs which selectively target 5-HTT reduced autistic or concomitant symptoms, such as repetitive behavior and aggression, and ameliorate language use. Using the transmission/disequilibrium test (TDT) an analysis was done for a common polymorphism in the upstream regulatory region (5-HTTLPR), a VNTR in intron 2 of the gene and a haplotype of both loci in 52 trios fulfilling stringent criteria for autism and an extended group of 65 trios including patients showing no language delay in their first 3 years of life. A higher frequency and preferential transmission of the long allele of the 5-HTTLPR was observed, but the TDT gave a statistically significant value ( P = 0. 032) only for the extended patient group. This result is in contrast to a recent study by a US group presenting preliminary evidence for preferential transmission of the short allele of 5-HTTLPR in 86 trios. Both studies failed to reveal significant linkage disequilibrium between the VNTR in intron 2 of the gene and autism. In our study haplotype analysis of the 5-HTTLPR and the VNTR in intron 2 supplied evidence for an association of 5-HTT and autism in the stringent ( P = 0.069) and extended patient group ( P = 0.049). Overall, we were not able to replicate the findings of the first study on 5-HTT and autism and instead observed a tendency for association of the opposite genetic variant of the gene with the disorder. The implications for genetic variants of the serotonin transporter in the etiology of autism and possible subgroups of patients, therefore, needs clarification in further studies with other and larger patient samples. [Abstract]

McCauley JL, Olson LM, Dowd M, Amin T, Steele A, Blakely RD, Folstein SE, Haines JL, Sutcliffe JS
Linkage and association analysis at the serotonin transporter (SLC6A4) locus in a rigid-compulsive subset of autism.
Am J Med Genet. 2004 May 15;127B(1):104-12.
Autism is a complex genetic neurodevelopmental disorder in which affected individuals display deficits in language, social relationships, and patterns of compulsive and stereotyped behaviors and rigidity. Linkage analysis in our dataset of 57 New England and 80 AGRE multiplex autism families reveals a multipoint heterogeneity LOD (HLOD) score of 2.74 at D17S1871 in 17q11.2. Analysis of phenotypic subsets shows an increased HLOD of 3.62 in families with compulsive behaviors and rigidity. The serotonin transporter locus (SLC6A4) maps nearby and is considered a functional candidate gene in autism and obsessive-compulsive disorder. We genotyped an insertion/deletion polymorphism in the promoter (5-HTTLPR), and seven single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) across the 38-kb transcriptional unit. Transmission disequilibrium (TD) analysis reveals nominal association at a SNP in intron 5 (P = 0.02) as well as 5-HTTLPR (P = 0.01), corresponding to over-transmission of the short allele. TD analysis in the rigid-compulsive subset shows no evidence for association. Intermarker linkage disequilibrium was determined. All SNPs define a single haplotype block, while 5-HTTLPR lies 5' to this block. Three SNPs are sufficient to detect all common alleles (> or =5%) in this > 26-kb block. Analysis of haplotypes for these markers demonstrates no evidence for association to autism. These data indicate that a common allele within the coding region of SLC6A4 is not responsible for the observed linkage. However, the presence of heterogeneous disease variants within the block or the existence of a common disease-associated allele either upstream or downstream of this block is possible. In fact, such variants may well account for linkage to 17q11.2 in our families. [Abstract]

Sugie Y, Sugie H, Fukuda T, Ito M, Ohzeki T
[Studies on the adverse effects of fluvoxamine treatment in children with autistic disorder: correlation with genetic polymorphism in serotonin related genes]
No To Hattatsu. 2003 May;35(3):233-7.
Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have recently been applied to the children with autistic disorder. To create better treatment, we studied here clinical adverse effects of fluvoxamine and correlated them with genetic polymorphism of two genes, the promoter region of serotonin transporter gene (5-HTTLPR) and serotonin 2A receptor gene (5-HT2AR). Twenty-eight subjects, consisting of 23 boys and 5 girls, aged from 3 to 18 years old diagnosed as having autistic disorder were analyzed during fluvoxamine administration. The dosages and duration of fluvoxamine treatment are 1.5 to 3 mg/kg/day and 2 weeks to 17 months (mean 7.9 months), respectively. There were several clinical adverse effects such as sleep disturbance in 9 cases, climb up to high places in 8, gastrointestinal symptoms in 6, hyperactivities in 5, excitement in 4, general fatigability in 2 and urticaria in 1. Medication was discontinued in 2 patients with fatigability and 1 with sleep disturbance, diarrhea and poor appetite. There was no significant correlation between genetic polymorphism in 5-HTTLPR and the occurrence of clinical adverse effects of fluvoxamine. However hyperactivity was significantly more frequent in the subjects with 102T/102T polymorphism of 5-HT2AR, and patients with sleep disturbance were significantly less frequent in the subjects with 102C/102C polymorphism. We conclude that the clinical adverse effects such as climb up to high places and hyperactivity during fluvoxamine treatment may be relatively specific in children, and that genetic polymorphism of 5-HT2AR may be related to the appearance of clinical adverse effects. [Abstract]

Veenstra-VanderWeele J, Kim SJ, Lord C, Courchesne R, Akshoomoff N, Leventhal BL, Courchesne E, Cook EH
Transmission disequilibrium studies of the serotonin 5-HT2A receptor gene (HTR2A) in autism.
Am J Med Genet. 2002 Apr 8;114(3):277-83.
Hyperserotonemia in autism is one of the longest-standing biochemical findings in a psychiatric disorder. This well-replicated finding and subsequent studies of platelet serotonin receptors in autism indicate that the serotonin 2A receptor gene (HTR2A) on chromosome 13q is a primary candidate gene in autism. Converging data from recent genome screens also implicates the genomic region containing HTR2A. Based on these lines of evidence, the transmission/disequilibrium test (TDT) was used to assess transmission disequilibrium between autism and haplotypes of three polymorphisms, including the promoter -1438 G/A single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in perfect linkage disequilibrium with the 102 T/C SNP in previous studies, a newly identified SNP in intron 1 near exon 2, and the SNP responsible for the His452Tyr amino acid change in exon 3. Because expression studies have shown HTR2A to be polymorphically imprinted in the brain, secondary analyses were split into maternal and paternal transmissions. No evidence was found for unequal transmission of haplotypes; however, power analysis reveals low power to detect a parent-of-origin effect in this sample size. [Abstract]

Hérault J, Petit E, Martineau J, Cherpi C, Perrot A, Barthélémy C, Lelord G, Müh JP
Serotonin and autism: biochemical and molecular biology features.
Psychiatry Res. 1996 Nov 1;65(1):33-43.
Whole blood and urinary levels of serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine; 5-HT) and the derivative urinary 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) were measured in normal and autistic subjects. An association was tested between autism and a marker coding for the 5-HT2A serotonergic receptor gene. Significant group (high urinary 5-HT and low whole blood 5-HT in autism) and age effects (urinary 5-HT decrease with age) were found. Moreover, whole blood 5-HT levels were correlated with clinical state. No differences in allele and genotype frequencies for the 5-HT2A receptor marker were found in this autistic population compared with age-matched healthy students. [Abstract]

Lassig JP, Vachirasomtoon K, Hartzell K, Leventhal M, Courchesne E, Courchesne R, Lord C, Leventhal BL, Cook EH
Physical mapping of the serotonin 5-HT(7) receptor gene (HTR7) to chromosome 10 and pseudogene (HTR7P) to chromosome 12, and testing of linkage disequilibrium between HTR7 and autistic disorder.
Am J Med Genet. 1999 Oct 15;88(5):472-5.
The gene encoding the serotonin 5-HT(7) receptor (HTR7) has been considered as a candidate locus in several neuropsychiatric disorders, based on pharmacological evidence and ligand-binding studies. After determining over 3 kb of previously unpublished sequence from introns 1 and 2 of HTR7, a single base (C/T) polymorphism in the second intron of HTR7 was found. Allele-specific PCR was used to genotype the HTR7 marker in 53 trios consisting of subjects with autistic disorder and both parents. Using the transmission disequilibrium test (TDT), no evidence of preferential transmission of either allele was found (TDT chi(2) = 0.252, p = 0.602). Sequence data obtained from both intron 1 and intron 2 of HTR7, and from the 5-HT(7) pseudogene (HTR7P), was used to confirm localization of HTR7 to 10q23 and HTR7P to 12p13 using radiation hybrid analyses. [Abstract]

Philippe A, Guilloud-Bataille M, Martinez M, Gillberg C, Råstam M, Sponheim E, Coleman M, Zappella M, Aschauer H, Penet C, Feingold J, Brice A, Leboyer M
Analysis of ten candidate genes in autism by association and linkage.
Am J Med Genet. 2002 Mar 8;114(2):125-8.
We studied the possible involvement of ten candidate genes in autism: proenkephalin, prodynorphin, and proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 2 (opioid metabolism); tyrosine hydroxylase, dopamine receptors D2 and D5, monoamine oxidases A and B (monoaminergic system); brain-derived neurotrophic factor, and neural cell adhesion molecule (involved in neurodevelopment). Thirty-eight families with two affected siblings and one family with two affected half-siblings, recruited by the Paris Autism Research International Sibpair Study (PARIS), were tested using the transmission disequilibrium test and two-point affected sib-pair linkage analysis. We found no evidence for association or linkage with intragenic or linked markers. Our family sample has good power for detecting a linkage disequilibrium of 0.80. Thus, these genes are unlikely to play a major role in the families studied, but further studies in a much larger sample would be needed to highlight weaker genetic effects. [Abstract]

Comings DE, Gade R, Muhleman D, Sverd J
No association of a tyrosine hydroxylase gene tetranucleotide repeat polymorphism in autism, Tourette syndrome, or ADHD.
Biol Psychiatry. 1995 Apr 1;37(7):484-6. [Abstract]

Martineau J, Hérault J, Petit E, Guérin P, Hameury L, Perrot A, Mallet J, Sauvage D, Lelord G, Müh JP
Catecholaminergic metabolism and autism.
Dev Med Child Neurol. 1994 Aug;36(8):688-97.
The authors determined levels of dopamine (DA) and its derivatives homovanillic acid (HVA), 3-4 dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC), 3 methoxytyramine and norepinephrine + epinephrine (NE + E) in the urine, and DA, E and NE in the whole blood of 50 autistic children aged between 1 year 11 months and 16 years. An association was tested for between markers coding for the enzymes and D3 dopaminergic receptor genes implicated in the monoaminergic pathway and autism, using restriction fragment-length polymorphism. There were significant modifications of catecholamine metabolites, but no difference for allele frequencies of the genes coding for tyrosine hydroxylase, dopamine beta hydroxylase and DRD3 in this population compared with a healthy school population matched for chronological age. However, some of the data encourage a more complete study of chromosome 11. [Abstract]

Lauritsen MB, Børglum AD, Betancur C, Philippe A, Kruse TA, Leboyer M, Ewald H
Investigation of two variants in the DOPA decarboxylase gene in patients with autism.
Am J Med Genet. 2002 May 8;114(4):466-70.
Though genetic risk factors are important for the development of autism, no specific risk alleles have yet been identified. DOPA decarboxylase (DDC) is involved in both the catecholaminergic and serotonergic pathways and may be considered a functional candidate gene for autism. The present study is the first to test if two new variants of possible functional significance in the DDC gene increase the susceptibility to autism. A total of 90 parent-offspring trios recruited in Denmark and France were investigated using the transmission disequilibrium test (TDT). We found no evidence of linkage disequilibrium between autism and either of the two polymorphisms. Nor did we find linkage disequilibrium between autism and haplotypes of the two variants using a multiallelic TDT. These findings suggest that the DDC gene is unlikely to play a major role in the development of autism in our data set. [Abstract]

Feng J, Sobell JL, Heston LL, Cook EH, Goldman D, Sommer SS
Scanning of the dopamine D1 and D5 receptor genes by REF in neuropsychiatric patients reveals a novel missense change at a highly conserved amino acid.
Am J Med Genet. 1998 Mar 28;81(2):172-8.
In previous analyses of schizophrenic patients, multiple missense changes and one nonsense change were identified in the D5 dopamine receptor (DRD5) gene, but no sequence changes of likely functional significance were identified in the D1 dopamine receptor (DRD1) gene. In the present study, we examined these genes in patients with certain other neuropsychiatric disorders that may be related to dopaminergic dysregulation. The coding regions of the DRD1 and DRD5 genes were examined in 25 and 25 autistic patients, 25 and 28 attention deficit hyperactivity disorder patients, and 51 and 43 alcoholic patients, respectively. In addition, the DRD5 gene was examined in 75 schizophrenic patients to search for additional variants affecting protein structure or expression (VAPSEs). These patients were analyzed with REF (restriction endonuclease fingerprinting), a hybrid between SSCP and restriction endonuclease digestion, which allows the entire coding sequence to be screened in one lane of a gel. Approximately 800 kb of genomic sequence were examined. No sequence changes were identified in the DRD1 gene among the 101 patient samples analyzed. Two sequence changes were identified in the DRD5 gene among the 171 patient samples. These included one previously identified silent polymorphism at base pair 978 (P326P). The change was identified in patients from all disease categories and from different ethnic backgrounds. One novel missense change, L88F, occurred in transmembrane domain II at a highly conserved amino acid in all dopamine receptors as well as in alpha1- and beta-adrenergic receptors. The mutation was identified in a Caucasian male patient with autism. Further analysis is necessary to determine if this missense change is associated with a particular neuropsychiatric phenotype. [Abstract]

Cheung J, Petek E, Nakabayashi K, Tsui LC, Vincent JB, Scherer SW
Identification of the human cortactin-binding protein-2 gene from the autism candidate region at 7q31.
Genomics. 2001 Nov;78(1-2):7-11.
Human chromosome 7q31 contains putative susceptibility loci for autism (AUTS1) and speech and language disorder (SPCH1). We report here the identification and characterization of a novel gene encoding cortactin-binding protein-2 (CORTBP2), which is located 45 kb telomeric to the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator gene (CFTR) at 7q31.3. The full-length (5975-bp) gene was isolated and found to be composed of 23 exons encompassing 170 kb of DNA. In addition to being a positional candidate for AUTS1, CORTBP2 was expressed at highest levels in the brain, as shown by northern blot analysis. Subsequent mutation analysis of CORTBP2 in 90 autistic patients identified two polymorphisms, including a leucine to valine change caused by a T to G substitution in exon 15. However, comparison of allele frequencies between autistic and control populations (n=96) showed no significant difference, suggesting that this variant is not a susceptibility factor for autism. [Abstract]

Persico AM, Militerni R, Bravaccio C, Schneider C, Melmed R, Trillo S, Montecchi F, Palermo M, Pascucci T, Puglisi-Allegra S, Reichelt KL, Conciatori M, Keller F
No association between the 4g/5G polymorphism of the plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 gene promoter and autistic disorder.
Psychiatr Genet. 2001 Jun;11(2):99-103.
Plasmin, a serine protease, is involved in many physiologically relevant processes, including haemostasis, cellular recruitment during immune response, tumour growth, and also neuronal migration and synaptic remodelling. Both tissue-type and urokinase-type plasminogen activators can be efficiently inhibited by plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1), a protease inhibitor of the serpin family. The human PAI-1 gene is located on chromosome 7q, within or close to a region that has been linked to autism in several linkage studies. Autism seems to be characterized by altered neuronal cytoarchitecture, synaptogenesis and possibly also cellular immune responses. We began addressing the potential involvement of the PAI-1 gene in autistic disorder with this linkage/association study, assessing transmission patterns of the 4G/5G polymorphism in the PAI-1 gene promoter that was previously shown to significantly affect PAI-1 plasma levels. No linkage/association was found in 167 trios with autistic probands, recruited in Italy and in the USA. We thus found no evidence that this polymorphism, or putative functionally relevant gene variants in linkage disequilibrium with it, confer vulnerability to autistic disorder. [Abstract]

D'Adamo P, Bacchelli E, Blasi F, Lipp HP, Toniolo D, Maestrini E
DNA variants in the human RAB3A gene are not associated with autism.
Genes Brain Behav. 2004 Apr;3(2):123-4.
Mutation screening of the RAB3A gene in 47 individuals with autism provided no evidence that DNA variants in this gene are associated with autism. Since Rab3a constitutive knockout mice react to novel stimuli with hyperactivity, a further search for association of RAB3A DNA variants with other neurobehavioral disorders such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder appears justified. [Abstract]

Nair-Miranda K, Murch A, Petterson B, Hill W, Nikolova-Hill A, Bradley L, Jackson S, Hallmayer J
An investigation into sub-telomeric deletions of chromosome 22 and pervasive developmental disorders.
Am J Med Genet. 2004 Feb 15;125B(1):99-104.
Deletions of the sub-telomeric region of chromosome 22 have been associated with mental retardation, developmental delay, and autistic behaviors. This study investigated sub-telomeric anomalies of chromosome 22 using fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) probes in 82 subjects diagnosed with autism and atypical autism. No microdeletions were detected in this group. Similar FISH analyses were undertaken on two children with developmental delay, who were ascertained to be ring 22 during routine cytogenetic investigations. One subject was shown to have a microdeletion in the sub-telomeric region tested. Both children met the social and communication cut off for autism on the ADI and but did not meet the cut off for restrictive and repetitive behaviors. Only one of the two children met the criteria for PDD on the ADOS. [Abstract]

Koishi S, Yamazaki K, Yamamoto K, Koishi S, Enseki Y, Nakamura Y, Oya A, Yasueda M, Asakura A, Aoki Y, Atsumi M, Inomata J, Inoko H, Matsumoto H
Notch4 gene polymorphisms are not associated with autism in Japanese population.
Am J Med Genet. 2004 Feb 15;125B(1):61-2. [Abstract]

Lauritsen MB, Nyegaard M, Betancur C, Colineaux C, Josiassen TL, Kruse TA, Leboyer M, Ewald H
Analysis of transmission of novel polymorphisms in the somatostatin receptor 5 (SSTR5) gene in patients with autism.
Am J Med Genet. 2003 Aug 15;121B(1):100-4.
Infantile autism is a pervasive developmental disorder with a strong genetic component. The mode of inheritance appears to be complex and no specific susceptibility genes have yet been identified. Chromosome 16p13.3 may contain a susceptibility gene based on findings from genome scans and reports of chromosome abnormalities in individuals with autism. The somatostatin receptor 5 (SSTR5) gene is located on chromosome 16p13.3 and is thus a positional candidate gene for autism. SSTR5 may also be a functional candidate gene for autism because somatostatin inhibits growth hormone secretion, and increased growth hormone response has been reported in some individuals with autism. Moreover, the somatostatinergic system interacts with the dopaminergic system, which has been hypothesized to be involved in the etiology of autism; in particular, somatostatin secretion is regulated by dopamine, and the dopamine D2 receptor and the SSTR5 receptor interact to form a receptor complex with enhanced functional activity. In the present study, we tested whether the alleles of twelve new single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the SSTR5 gene were preferentially transmitted, using the transmission disequilibrium test (TDT) in a sample of 79 trios with autism (18 from Denmark and 61 from France). Furthermore, we combined four missense SNPs into haplotypes and searched for preferential transmission using the program TRANSMIT. No significant preferential transmission of the alleles and haplotypes of the twelve SNPs was found. Our results do not suggest the SSTR5 gene as a susceptibility gene for autism. [Abstract]

Nabi R, Zhong H, Serajee FJ, Huq AH
No association between single nucleotide polymorphisms in DLX6 and Piccolo genes at 7q21-q22 and autism.
Am J Med Genet. 2003 May 15;119B(1):98-101.
Several independent genome scans have revealed excess allele sharing in an overlapping 40 cM region of 7q21-34 in autism. DLX6 and Piccolo (PCLO) at 7q21-q22 are two positional and functional candidate genes in autism. We have investigated a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in exon 4 of the PCLO gene and a SNP in intron 1 of the DLX6 gene for linkage and association in autistic disorder using both qualitative and quantitative analyses. One hundred ninety-six multiplex autistic disorder families were tested using transmission disequilibrium and two-point affected sib pair linkage analysis. We found no evidence of association or linkage with the two intragenic markers. In addition, there was also no linkage or association between language and stereotypic behavior quantitative traits in autism and the SNPs. In conclusion, our studies suggest that these two SNPs in DLX6 and PCLO genes are not in linkage disequilibrium with autism. [Abstract]

Vourc'h P, Petit E, Müh JP, Andres C, Bienvenu T, Beldjord C, Chelly J, Barthélémy C
Exclusion of the coding sequence of the doublecortin gene as a susceptibility locus in autistic disorder.
Am J Med Genet. 2002 Mar 1;108(2):164-7. [Abstract]

Jamain S, Quach H, Quintana-Murci L, Betancur C, Philippe A, Gillberg C, Sponheim E, Skjeldal OH, Fellous M, Leboyer M, Bourgeron T
Y chromosome haplogroups in autistic subjects.
Mol Psychiatry. 2002;7(2):217-9.
The male to female ratio in autism is 4:1 in the global autistic population, but increases to 23:1 in autistic subjects without physical or brain abnormalities.(1) Despite this well-recognised gender difference, male predisposition to autistic disorder remains unexplained and the role of sex chromosomes is still debated. Numerical and structural abnormalities of the sex chromosomes are among the most frequently reported chromosomal disorders associated with autism. However, genome scans have failed to detect linkage on the X chromosome(2,3,4) and this approach cannot study the non-recombining region of the Y chromosome. In this study, we searched for a specific Y chromosome effect in autistic subjects. Using informative Y-polymorphic markers, the Y chromosome haplotypes of 111 autistic subjects from France, Sweden and Norway were defined and compared with relevant control populations. No significant difference in Y-haplotype distribution between the affected and control groups was observed. Although this study cannot exclude the presence of a Y susceptibility gene, our results are not suggestive of a Y chromosome effect in autism. [Abstract]

Chibuk TK, Bischof JM, Wevrick R
A necdin/MAGE-like gene in the chromosome 15 autism susceptibility region: expression, imprinting, and mapping of the human and mouse orthologues.
BMC Genet. 2001;2(1):22.
BACKGROUND: Proximal chromosome 15q is implicated in neurodevelopmental disorders including Prader-Willi and Angelman syndromes, autistic disorder and developmental abnormalities resulting from chromosomal deletions or duplications. A subset of genes in this region are subject to genomic imprinting, the expression of the gene from only one parental allele. RESULTS: We have now identified the NDNL2 (also known as MAGE-G) gene within the 15q autistic disorder susceptibility region and have mapped its murine homolog to the region of conserved synteny near necdin (Ndn) on mouse Chr 7. NDNL2/MAGE-G is a member of a large gene family that includes the X-linked MAGE cluster, MAGED1 (NRAGE), MAGEL2 and NDN, where the latter two genes are implicated in Prader-Willi syndrome. We have now determined that NDNL2/Ndnl2 is widely expressed in mouse and human fetal and adult tissues, and that it is apparently not subject to genomic imprinting by the PWS/AS Imprinting Center. CONCLUSION: Although NDNL2/MAGE-G in the broadly defined chromosome 15 autistic disorder susceptibility region, it is not likely to be pathogenic based on its wide expression pattern and lack of imprinted expression. [Abstract]

Feng J, Craddock N, Jones IR, Cook EH, Goldman D, Heston LL, Peltonen L, DeLisi LE, Sommer SS
Systematic screening for mutations in the glycine receptor alpha2 subunit gene (GLRA2) in patients with schizophrenia and other psychiatric diseases.
Psychiatr Genet. 2001 Mar;11(1):45-8.
The glycine receptor, which is a member of the ligand-gated ion channel superfamily, mediates synaptic inhibition in the spinal cord and other brain regions. This superfamily has been implicated in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia and other psychiatric diseases. The complete coding sequence and splice junctions of the GLRA2 gene were scanned by DOVAM-S, a form of SSCP analysis with sufficient redundancy to detect virtually all mutations. Those analyses were performed in 113 patients with schizophrenia, and in pilot studies of patients with bipolar illness, alcoholism, puerperal psychosis, autism, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (533 kb total scanned sequences). We detected three sequence changes in the coding region, all resulting in silent mutations: C894T in exon 5, C1134T in exon 7, and C1476T in exon 9. These do not alter the structure or the expression of the protein. It is unlikely that mutations in the coding region and splice junction of GLRA2 gene are associated with schizophrenia and other psychiatric diseases. [Abstract]

Kim SJ, Gonen D, Hanna GL, Leventhal BL, Cook EH
Deletion polymorphism in the coding region of the human NESP55 alternative transcript of GNAS1.
Mol Cell Probes. 2000 Jun;14(3):191-4.
NESP55, a novel member of the chromogranins, was originally implicated as a precursor of a peptide LSAL with 5-HT1B receptor antagonist activity. In humans, NESP55 (MIM 139320) is encoded by an alternative transcript of GNAS1, the gene encoding the guanine nucleotide-binding alpha subunit of G(S). As a result of the potential relevance of NESP55 to serotoninergic neurotransmission, we screened its sequence using genomic DNA pools from autistic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) probands and control subjects. Six single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were identified and the allele frequencies of those SNPs were determined. In addition, a 24-bp in-frame deletion in the coding region was found in one of the OCD probands. To further investigate its pattern of inheritance and the relevance to studied phenotypes, we genotyped 123 total subjects from autism, OCD and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) families. The deletion was detected only in one OCD family and followed Mendelian inheritance. All subjects with the deletion were heterozygous. However, there are no specific behavioural or physical alterations in the subjects with this deletion variant. The physiological role of NESP55 in serotoninergic neurotransmission as well as the effect of the deletion on its function should be evaluated in future studies. [Abstract]

Limprasert P, Zhong N, Dobkin C, Brown WT
Polymorphism of FXR1 showing lack of association with autism.
Am J Med Genet. 1997 Jul 25;74(4):453-4. [Abstract]

Asano E, Kuivaniemi H, Huq AH, Tromp G, Behen M, Rothermel R, Herron J, Chugani DC
A study of novel polymorphisms in the upstream region of vasoactive intestinal peptide receptor type 2 gene in autism.
J Child Neurol. 2001 May;16(5):357-63.
We investigated the vasoactive intestinal peptide receptor type 2 (VIPR2) gene as a candidate gene for autism. We searched for mutations in the VIPR2 gene in autistic individuals, and 10 novel polymorphisms were identified. Three polymorphisms in the upstream region were studied in detail, and there was no significant difference in the frequencies between the autistic group (n = 14) and unrelated controls (n = 52). The distribution of the genotypes in two of the three polymorphisms differed somewhat between autistic subjects with gastrointestinal problems and those without. Moreover, there was a trend showing a correlation between the genotypes for the third polymorphism and the severity of stereotypical behavior as ranked by the Gilliam Autism Rating Scale. These preliminary results suggest that VIPR2 may have a role in gastrointestinal symptoms and stereotypical behaviors in autism, although a larger collection of samples suitable for transmission disequilibrium tests is necessary to validate the results. [Abstract]









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Recent Autism Negative Association Findings

1) Kwong AK, Fung CW, Chan SY, Wong VC
Identification of SCN1A and PCDH19 Mutations in Chinese Children with Dravet Syndrome.
PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e41802.
[PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

2) Angelidou A, Asadi S, Alysandratos KD, Karagkouni A, Kourembanas S, Theoharides TC
Perinatal stress, brain inflammation and risk of autism-Review and proposal.
BMC Pediatr. 2012 Jul 2;12(1):89.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by varying deficits in social interactions, communication, and learning, as well as stereotypic behaviors. Despite the significant increase in ASD, there are few if any clues for its pathogenesis, hampering early detection or treatment. Premature babies are also more vulnerable to infections and inflammation leading to neurodevelopmental problems and higher risk of developing ASD. Many autism "susceptibility" genes have been identified, but "environmental" factors appear to play a significant role. Increasing evidence suggests that there are different ASD endophenotypes. DISCUSSION: We review relevant literature suggesting in utero inflammation can lead to preterm labor, while insufficient development of the gut-blood-brain barriers could permit exposure to potential neurotoxins. This risk apparently may increase in parents with "allergic" or autoimmune problems during gestation, or if they had been exposed to stressors. The presence of circulating auto-antibodies against fetal brain proteins in mothers is associated with higher risk of autism and suggests disruption of the blood-brain-barrier (BBB). A number of papers have reported increased brain expression or CSF levels of proinflammatory cytokines, especially TNF, which is preformed in mast cells. Recent evidence also indicates increased serum levels of the pro-inflammatory mast cell trigger neurotensin (NT), and of extracellular mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which is immunogenic. Mutations of the signal-transduction molecule mTOR and its negative regulator Pten have been linked to autism, but also with proliferation and function of mast cells. SUMMARY: Premature birth and susceptibility genes may make infants more vulnerable to allergic, environmental, infectious, or stress-related triggers that could stimulate mast cell release of pro-inflammatory and neurotoxic molecules, thus contributing to brain inflammation and ASD pathogenesis, at least in an endophenotype of ASD patients. [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

3) Dimova PS, Kirov A, Todorova A, Todorov T, Mitev V
A novel PCDH19 mutation inherited from an unaffected mother.
Pediatr Neurol. 2012 Jun;46(6):397-400.
We report on a 13-year-old girl with a negative family history who manifested drug-resistant, mostly fever-induced seizures in clusters from age 5 months. Seizure frequency was not substantially reduced by anticonvulsant treatment, but tended to decrease with age. Early behavioral changes, i.e., autistic and aggressive features, worsened with time. Molecular genetic testing for PCDH19 mutations was performed by sequencing all exons of the gene, and revealed duplication c.2705dupA (p.Asp902Lysfs*6) in exon 5, which was also present in the fully asymptomatic mother. This case is among the few reported with a pathogenic PCDH19 mutation inherited from an unaffected heterozygous female carrier. It indicates that PCDH19 mutation testing should be performed in sporadic cases with no family history that still demonstrate well-established features of peculiar X-linked epilepsy with mental retardation limited to females. [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

4) Silverman JL, Smith DG, Rizzo SJ, Karras MN, Turner SM, Tolu SS, Bryce DK, Smith DL, Fonseca K, Ring RH, Crawley JN
Negative allosteric modulation of the mGluR5 receptor reduces repetitive behaviors and rescues social deficits in mouse models of autism.
Sci Transl Med. 2012 Apr 25;4(131):131ra51.
Neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and fragile X syndrome were long thought to be medically untreatable, on the assumption that brain dysfunctions were immutably hardwired before diagnosis. Recent revelations that many cases of autism are caused by mutations in genes that control the ongoing formation and maturation of synapses have challenged this dogma. Antagonists of metabotropic glutamate receptor subtype 5 (mGluR5), which modulate excitatory neurotransmission, are in clinical trials for fragile X syndrome, a major genetic cause of intellectual disabilities. About 30% of patients with fragile X syndrome meet the diagnostic criteria for autism. Reasoning by analogy, we considered the mGluR5 receptor as a potential target for intervention in autism. We used BTBR T+tf/J (BTBR) mice, an established model with robust behavioral phenotypes relevant to the three diagnostic behavioral symptoms of autism--unusual social interactions, impaired communication, and repetitive behaviors--to probe the efficacy of a selective negative allosteric modulator of the mGluR5 receptor, GRN-529. GRN-529 reduced repetitive behaviors in three cohorts of BTBR mice at doses that did not induce sedation in control assays of open field locomotion. In addition, the same nonsedating doses reduced the spontaneous stereotyped jumping that characterizes a second inbred strain of mice, C58/J. Further, GRN-529 partially reversed the striking lack of sociability in BTBR mice on some parameters of social approach and reciprocal social interactions. These findings raise the possibility that a single targeted pharmacological intervention may alleviate multiple diagnostic behavioral symptoms of autism. [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

5) Macêdo DS, Araújo DP, Sampaio LR, Vasconcelos SM, Sales PM, Sousa FC, Hallak JE, Crippa JA, Carvalho AF
Animal models of prenatal immune challenge and their contribution to the study of schizophrenia: a systematic review.
Braz J Med Biol Res. 2012 Mar;45(3):179-86.
Prenatal immune challenge (PIC) in pregnant rodents produces offspring with abnormalities in behavior, histology, and gene expression that are reminiscent of schizophrenia and autism. Based on this, the goal of this article was to review the main contributions of PIC models, especially the one using the viral-mimetic particle polyriboinosinic-polyribocytidylic acid (poly-I:C), to the understanding of the etiology, biological basis and treatment of schizophrenia. This systematic review consisted of a search of available web databases (PubMed, SciELO, LILACS, PsycINFO, and ISI Web of Knowledge) for original studies published in the last 10 years (May 2001 to October 2011) concerning animal models of PIC, focusing on those using poly-I:C. The results showed that the PIC model with poly-I:C is able to mimic the prodrome and both the positive and negative/cognitive dimensions of schizophrenia, depending on the specific gestation time window of the immune challenge. The model resembles the neurobiology and etiology of schizophrenia and has good predictive value. In conclusion, this model is a robust tool for the identification of novel molecular targets during prenatal life, adolescence and adulthood that might contribute to the development of preventive and/or treatment strategies (targeting specific symptoms, i.e., positive or negative/cognitive) for this devastating mental disorder, also presenting biosafety as compared to viral infection models. One limitation of this model is the incapacity to model the full spectrum of immune responses normally induced by viral exposure. [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

6) Ploeger A, Galis F
Evolutionary approaches to autism- an overview and integration.
Mcgill J Med. 2011 Jun;13(2):38.
Autism is a highly heritable neurodevelopmental disorder, which greatly reduces reproductive success. The combination of high heritability and low reproductive success raises an evolutionary question: why was autism not eliminated by natural selection? We review different perspectives on the evolution of autism and propose an integration which emphasizes epistatic interactions between the effects of genes during development. It is well-established that autism is a polygenic disorder, and that the genes contributing to autism interact. If a disorder is polygenic, it is likely that the genes underlying the disorder are also involved in traits that are beneficial for the individual. For example, it is possible that genes involved in the development of autism are also involved in the development of intelligence. As intelligence is positively correlated with reproductive success, genes involved in autism can possibly spread in the population. We propose that in most individuals, the interactions between genes result in normal or high intelligence and the absence of autism. However, in some unlucky situations, often in combination with spontaneous negative mutations, the interactions between genes can lead to the development of autism (or other pathologies). Thus, the combination of high heritability and low reproductive success in autism can be explained from an evolutionary developmental perspective that emphasizes the role of epistatic interactions in polygenic disorders. [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

7) Atkin TA, Brandon NJ, Kittler JT
Disrupted in Schizophrenia 1 forms pathological aggresomes that disrupt its function in intracellular transport.
Hum Mol Genet. 2012 May 1;21(9):2017-28.
Disrupted in Schizophrenia 1 (DISC1) is a key susceptibility gene implicated in major mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder and autism, but the link between this protein and the pathology of these diseases remains unclear. Recently, DISC1 has been demonstrated to form insoluble protein aggregates in vitro and in human post-mortem brain tissue but the cellular dynamics of these DISC1 aggregates and their effects on neuronal function are unknown. Using a combination of biochemistry and live cell confocal and video microscopy, we characterize the properties of DISC1 aggregates and their effects on cellular function. We demonstrate that DISC1 protein aggregates are recruited to the aggresome and degraded there by the autophagic pathway. We show that there is a compromised exchange between DISC1 in aggresomes and the cytosolic DISC1 pool, and that the large DISC1 aggregates, which can also co-recruit endogenous soluble DISC1, exhibit altered trafficking. Moreover, we demonstrate that large DISC1 aggregates have a pathological effect in neurons by causing the disruption of intracellular transport of key organellar cargo, such as mitochondria. These data, therefore, show that DISC1 is recruited to aggresomes with negative effects on neuronal function, and suggests a novel DISC1-based mechanism for neuronal pathology. [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

8) Capelli LP, Krepischi AC, Gurgel-Giannetti J, Mendes MF, Rodrigues T, Varela MC, Koiffmann CP, Rosenberg C
Deletion of the RMGA and CHD2 genes in a child with epilepsy and mental deficiency.
Eur J Med Genet. 2012 Feb;55(2):132-4.
We describe a novel chromosome microdeletion at 15q26.1 detected by oligo-array-CGH in a 6-year-old girl presenting with global development delay, epilepsy, autistic behavior and facial dysmorphisms. Although these features are often present in Angelman syndrome, no alterations were present in the methylation pattern of the Prader-Willi-Angelman critical region. The deletion encompasses only 2 genes: CHD2, which is part of a gene family already involved in CHARGE syndrome, and RGMA which exerts a negative control on axon growth. Deletion of either or both genes could cause the phenotype of this patient. These results provide a further chromosome region requiring evaluation in patients presenting Angelman features. [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

9) Sperow M, Berry RB, Bayazitov IT, Zhu G, Baker SJ, Zakharenko SS
Phosphatase and tensin homologue (PTEN) regulates synaptic plasticity independently of its effect on neuronal morphology and migration.
J Physiol. 2012 Feb 15;590(Pt 4):777-92.
The tumour suppressor PTEN is the central negative regulator of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) signalling pathway, which mediates diverse processes in various tissues. In the nervous system, the PI3K pathway modulates proliferation, migration, cellular size, synaptic transmission and plasticity. In humans, neurological abnormalities such as autism, seizures and ataxia are associated with inherited PTEN mutations. In rodents, Pten loss during early development is associated with extensive deficits in neuronal migration and substantial hypertrophy of neurons and synaptic densities; however, whether its effect on synaptic transmission and plasticity is direct or mediated by structural abnormalities remains unknown. Here we analysed neuronal and synaptic structures and function in Pten-conditional knockout mice in which the gene was deleted from excitatory neurons postnatally. Using two-photon imaging, Golgi staining, immunohistochemistry, electron microscopy, and electrophysiological tools, we determined that Pten loss does not affect hippocampus development, neuronal or synaptic structures, or basal excitatory synaptic transmission. However, it does cause deficits in both major forms of synaptic plasticity, long-term potentiation and long-term depression, of excitatory synaptic transmission. These deficits coincided with impaired spatial memory, as measured in water maze tasks. Deletion of Pdk1, which encodes a positive downstream regulator of the PI3K pathway, rescued Pten-mediated deficits in synaptic plasticity but not in spatial memory. These results suggest that PTEN independently modulates functional and structural properties of hippocampal neurons and is directly involved in mechanisms of synaptic plasticity. [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

10) Sanmann JN, Schaefer GB, Buehler BA, Sanger WG
Algorithmic approach for methyl-CpG binding protein 2 (MECP2) gene testing in patients with neurodevelopmental disabilities.
J Child Neurol. 2012 Mar;27(3):346-54.
Methyl-CpG binding protein 2 gene (MECP2) testing is indicated for patients with numerous clinical presentations, including Rett syndrome (classic and atypical), unexplained neonatal encephalopathy, Angelman syndrome, nonspecific mental retardation, autism (females), and an X-linked family history of developmental delay. Because of this complexity, a gender-specific approach for comprehensive MECP2 gene testing is described. Briefly, sequencing of exons 1 to 4 of MECP2 is recommended for patients with a Rett syndrome phenotype, unexplained neonatal encephalopathy, an Angelman syndrome phenotype (with negative 15q11-13 analysis), nonspecific mental retardation, or autism (females). Additional testing for large-scale MECP2 deletions is recommended for patients with Rett syndrome or Angelman syndrome phenotypes (with negative 15q11-13 analysis) following negative sequencing. Alternatively, testing for large-scale MECP2 duplications is recommended for males presenting with mental retardation, an X-linked family history of developmental delay, and a significant proportion of previously described clinical features (particularly a history of recurrent respiratory infections). [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

11) Horvath GA, Selby K, Poskitt K, Hyland K, Waters PJ, Coulter-Mackie M, Stockler-Ipsiroglu SG
Hemiplegic migraine, seizures, progressive spastic paraparesis, mood disorder, and coma in siblings with low systemic serotonin.
Cephalalgia. 2011 Nov;31(15):1580-6.
[PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

12) Abuhatzira L, Shamir A, Schones DE, Schäffer AA, Bustin M
The chromatin-binding protein HMGN1 regulates the expression of methyl CpG-binding protein 2 (MECP2) and affects the behavior of mice.
J Biol Chem. 2011 Dec 9;286(49):42051-62.
High mobility group N1 protein (HMGN1), a nucleosomal-binding protein that affects the structure and function of chromatin, is encoded by a gene located on chromosome 21 and is overexpressed in Down syndrome, one of the most prevalent genomic disorders. Misexpression of HMGN1 affects the cellular transcription profile; however, the biological function of this protein is still not fully understood. We report that HMGN1 modulates the expression of methyl CpG-binding protein 2 (MeCP2), a DNA-binding protein known to affect neurological functions including autism spectrum disorders, and whose alterations in HMGN1 levels affect the behavior of mice. Quantitative PCR and Western analyses of cell lines and brain tissues from mice that either overexpress or lack HMGN1 indicate that HMGN1 is a negative regulator of MeCP2 expression. Alterations in HMGN1 levels lead to changes in chromatin structure and histone modifications in the MeCP2 promoter. Behavior analyses by open field test, elevated plus maze, Reciprocal Social Interaction, and automated sociability test link changes in HMGN1 levels to abnormalities in activity and anxiety and to social deficits in mice. Targeted analysis of the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange genotype collection reveals a non-random distribution of genotypes within 500 kbp of HMGN1 in a region affecting its expression in families predisposed to autism spectrum disorders. Our results reveal that HMGN1 affects the behavior of mice and suggest that epigenetic changes resulting from altered HMGN1 levels could play a role in the etiology of neurodevelopmental disorders. [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

13) Berkel S, Tang W, Treviño M, Vogt M, Obenhaus HA, Gass P, Scherer SW, Sprengel R, Schratt G, Rappold GA
Inherited and de novo SHANK2 variants associated with autism spectrum disorder impair neuronal morphogenesis and physiology.
Hum Mol Genet. 2012 Jan 15;21(2):344-57.
Mutations in the postsynaptic scaffolding gene SHANK2 have recently been identified in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and intellectual disability. However, the cellular and physiological consequences of these mutations in neurons remain unknown. We have analyzed the functional impact caused by two inherited and one de novo SHANK2 mutations from ASD individuals (L1008_P1009dup, T1127M, R462X). Although all three variants affect spine volume and have smaller SHANK2 cluster sizes, T1127M additionally fails to rescue spine volume in Shank2 knock-down neurons. R462X is not able to rescue spine volume and dendritic branching and lacks postsynaptic clustering, indicating the most severe dysfunction. To demonstrate that R462X when expressed in mouse can be linked to physiological effects, we analyzed synaptic transmission and behavior. Principal neurons of mice expressing rAAV-transduced SHANK2-R462X present a specific, long-lasting reduction in miniature postsynaptic AMPA receptor currents. This dominant negative effect translates into dose-dependent altered cognitive behavior of SHANK2-R462X-expressing mice, with an impact on the penetrance of ASD. [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

14) Moghaddam B, Javitt D
From revolution to evolution: the glutamate hypothesis of schizophrenia and its implication for treatment.
Neuropsychopharmacology. 2012 Jan;37(1):4-15.
Glutamate is the primary excitatory neurotransmitter in mammalian brain. Disturbances in glutamate-mediated neurotransmission have been increasingly documented in a range of neuropsychiatric disorders including schizophrenia, substance abuse, mood disorders, Alzheimer's disease, and autism-spectrum disorders. Glutamatergic theories of schizophrenia are based on the ability of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) antagonists to induce schizophrenia-like symptoms, as well as emergent literature documenting disturbances of NMDAR-related gene expression and metabolic pathways in schizophrenia. Research over the past two decades has highlighted promising new targets for drug development based on potential pre- and postsynaptic, and glial mechanisms leading to NMDAR dysfunction. Reduced NMDAR activity on inhibitory neurons leads to disinhibition of glutamate neurons increasing synaptic activity of glutamate, especially in the prefrontal cortex. Based on this mechanism, normalizing excess glutamate levels by metabotropic glutamate group 2/3 receptor agonists has led to potential identification of the first non-monoaminergic target with comparable efficacy as conventional antipsychotic drugs for treating positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia. In addition, NMDAR has intrinsic modulatory sites that are active targets for drug development, several of which show promise in preclinical/early clinical trials targeting both symptoms and cognition. To date, most studies have been done with orthosteric agonists and/or antagonists at specific sites. However, allosteric modulators, both positive and negative, may offer superior efficacy with less danger of downregulation. [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

15) Veenstra-VanderWeele J, Blakely RD
Networking in autism: leveraging genetic, biomarker and model system findings in the search for new treatments.
Neuropsychopharmacology. 2012 Jan;37(1):196-212.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder affecting approximately 1% of children. ASD is defined by core symptoms in two domains: negative symptoms of impairment in social and communication function, and positive symptoms of restricted and repetitive behaviors. Available treatments are inadequate for treating both core symptoms and associated conditions. Twin studies indicate that ASD susceptibility has a large heritable component. Genetic studies have identified promising leads, with converging insights emerging from single-gene disorders that bear ASD features, with particular interest in mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR)-linked synaptic plasticity mechanisms. Mouse models of these disorders are revealing not only opportunities to model behavioral perturbations across species, but also evidence of postnatal rescue of brain and behavioral phenotypes. An intense search for ASD biomarkers has consistently pointed to elevated platelet serotonin (5-HT) levels and a surge in brain growth in the first 2 years of life. Following a review of the diversity of ASD phenotypes and its genetic origins and biomarkers, we discuss opportunities for translation of these findings into novel ASD treatments, focusing on mTor- and 5-HT-signaling pathways, and their possible intersection. Paralleling the progress made in understanding the root causes of rare genetic syndromes that affect cognitive development, we anticipate progress in models systems using bona fide ASD-associated molecular changes that have the potential to accelerate the development of ASD diagnostics and therapeutics. [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

16) Leoncini S, De Felice C, Signorini C, Pecorelli A, Durand T, Valacchi G, Ciccoli L, Hayek J
Oxidative stress in Rett syndrome: natural history, genotype, and variants.
Redox Rep. 2011;16(4):145-53.
[PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

17) Julie G, Hamdan FF, Rouleau GA
A strategy to identify de novo mutations in common disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.
J Vis Exp. 2011;(52)
There are several lines of evidence supporting the role of de novo mutations as a mechanism for common disorders, such as autism and schizophrenia. First, the de novo mutation rate in humans is relatively high, so new mutations are generated at a high frequency in the population. However, de novo mutations have not been reported in most common diseases. Mutations in genes leading to severe diseases where there is a strong negative selection against the phenotype, such as lethality in embryonic stages or reduced reproductive fitness, will not be transmitted to multiple family members, and therefore will not be detected by linkage gene mapping or association studies. The observation of very high concordance in monozygotic twins and very low concordance in dizygotic twins also strongly supports the hypothesis that a significant fraction of cases may result from new mutations. Such is the case for diseases such as autism and schizophrenia. Second, despite reduced reproductive fitness(1) and extremely variable environmental factors, the incidence of some diseases is maintained worldwide at a relatively high and constant rate. This is the case for autism and schizophrenia, with an incidence of approximately 1% worldwide. Mutational load can be thought of as a balance between selection for or against a deleterious mutation and its production by de novo mutation. Lower rates of reproduction constitute a negative selection factor that should reduce the number of mutant alleles in the population, ultimately leading to decreased disease prevalence. These selective pressures tend to be of different intensity in different environments. Nonetheless, these severe mental disorders have been maintained at a constant relatively high prevalence in the worldwide population across a wide range of cultures and countries despite a strong negative selection against them(2). This is not what one would predict in diseases with reduced reproductive fitness, unless there was a high new mutation rate. Finally, the effects of paternal age: there is a significantly increased risk of the disease with increasing paternal age, which could result from the age related increase in paternal de novo mutations. This is the case for autism and schizophrenia(3). The male-to-female ratio of mutation rate is estimated at about 4-6:1, presumably due to a higher number of germ-cell divisions with age in males. Therefore, one would predict that de novo mutations would more frequently come from males, particularly older males(4). A high rate of new mutations may in part explain why genetic studies have so far failed to identify many genes predisposing to complexes diseases genes, such as autism and schizophrenia, and why diseases have been identified for a mere 3% of genes in the human genome. Identification for de novo mutations as a cause of a disease requires a targeted molecular approach, which includes studying parents and affected subjects. The process for determining if the genetic basis of a disease may result in part from de novo mutations and the molecular approach to establish this link will be illustrated, using autism and schizophrenia as examples. [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

18) Kortüm F, Das S, Flindt M, Morris-Rosendahl DJ, Stefanova I, Goldstein A, Horn D, Klopocki E, Kluger G, Martin P, Rauch A, Roumer A, Saitta S, Walsh LE, Wieczorek D, Uyanik G, Kutsche K, Dobyns WB
The core FOXG1 syndrome phenotype consists of postnatal microcephaly, severe mental retardation, absent language, dyskinesia, and corpus callosum hypogenesis.
J Med Genet. 2011 Jun;48(6):396-406.
[PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

19) Volders K, Nuytens K, Creemers JW
The autism candidate gene Neurobeachin encodes a scaffolding protein implicated in membrane trafficking and signaling.
Curr Mol Med. 2011 Apr;11(3):204-17.
Autism is a developmental disorder of the central nervous system characterized by impairments in social interaction, communication and restricted repetitive and stereotyped behavior. It is generally assumed that in most cases autism has a polygenic cause, but the pathogenesis is still unknown. Neurobeachin (NBEA) has recently been identified as a candidate gene for autism in a patient with a de novo chromosomal translocation and three patients with a monoallelic deletion. This multidomain scaffolding protein has been suggested to be involved in neuronal post-Golgi membrane traffic. Knockout of Nbea in two independent mouse models has demonstrated a role in neurotransmitter release and synaptic functioning. Knockdown in a cell line has shown a role as negative regulator of secretion of large dense-core vesicles (LDCVs) and haploinsufficiency in blood platelets results in dense granules with an aberrant morphology. A potential role in vesicle transport is further supported by a study of SEL-2, the C.elegans homologue of NBEA. This protein was identified as a negative regulator of LIN-12/Notch activity, probably due to defects in endosomal trafficking. Members of the Notch pathway have also been shown to be modifiers of the NBEA homologue in Drosophila, rugose. These new insights in the function of NBEA may help identifying novel pathways affected in autistic patients. In particular, it suggests that impaired functionality of LDCVs, which contain neurotrophins, neuropeptides and monoamines, might contribute to the pathogenesis of autism in at least a subgroup of patients. [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]

20) Sarachana T, Xu M, Wu RC, Hu VW
Sex hormones in autism: androgens and estrogens differentially and reciprocally regulate RORA, a novel candidate gene for autism.
PLoS One. 2011;6(2):e17116.
Autism, a pervasive neurodevelopmental disorder manifested by deficits in social behavior and interpersonal communication, and by stereotyped, repetitive behaviors, is inexplicably biased towards males by a ratio of ?4?1, with no clear understanding of whether or how the sex hormones may play a role in autism susceptibility. Here, we show that male and female hormones differentially regulate the expression of a novel autism candidate gene, retinoic acid-related orphan receptor-alpha (RORA) in a neuronal cell line, SH-SY5Y. In addition, we demonstrate that RORA transcriptionally regulates aromatase, an enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen. We further show that aromatase protein is significantly reduced in the frontal cortex of autistic subjects relative to sex- and age-matched controls, and is strongly correlated with RORA protein levels in the brain. These results indicate that RORA has the potential to be under both negative and positive feedback regulation by male and female hormones, respectively, through one of its transcriptional targets, aromatase, and further suggest a mechanism for introducing sex bias in autism. [PubMed Citation] [Order full text from Infotrieve]