Clinically Relevant Single Gene or Intragenic Deletions Encompassing Critical Neurodevelopmental Genes in Patients With Developmental Delay, Mental Retardation, and/or Autism Spectrum Disorders
ABSTRACT Recent studies suggest that copy number variations (CNVs) encompassing several genes involved in neurodevelopmental pathways are associated with a variety of neuropsychiatric phenotypes, including developmental delay (DD), mental retardation (MR), and autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Here we present eight patients in a cohort of approximately 1,200 patients referred for clinical array CGH testing for various neurodevelopmental phenotypes,whowere identified to carry small (<1.0Mb with the majority <500 kb) either total gene or intragenic deletions encompassing critical synaptic and other neurodevelopmental genes. The presentations of these patients included variable degrees of DD, speech problems, learning disabilities, MR, autistic-like features, and mild non-specific dysmorphic features. These genes belong to four functional categories, including neuronal transcription factor genes (NFIA at 1p31.3, MEF2C at 5q14.3, andCAMAT1at 1p36.23p36.31), neuron-specific splicing factor genes (RBFOX1 at 16p13.2p13.3), genes involved in synapse formation and maintenance (CNTNAP2 at 7q35 and LRFN5 at 14q21.2), and genes involved in neurotransmission (CHRNA7 at 15q13.3 and IL1RAPL1 at Xp21.2p21.3). Our report expands the list of neurodevelopmental genes deleted in various neurobehavioral phenotypes, expands the phenotypes caused by haploinsufficiency of previously reported critical neurodevelopmental genes, and elucidates the clinical relevance and need for careful clinical interpretation of some small CNVs<500 kb. This report also suggests that small clinically relevant deletions encompassing critical synaptic and other neurodevelopmental genes can present clinically with various neurobehavioral phenotypes, which implies the existence of overlapping neuronal pathways in the pathogenesis of these phenotypes.
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ABSTRACT: The male predominance of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is one of the best-known, and at the same time, one of the least understood characteristics of these disorders. In this paper we review genetic, epigenetic, hormonal, and environmental mechanisms underlying this male preponderance. Sex-specific effects of Y-linked genes (including SRY expression leading to testicular development), balanced and skewed X-inactivation, genes that escape X-inactivation, parent-of-origin allelic imprinting, and the hypothetical heterochromatin sink are reviewed. These mechanisms likely contribute to etiology, instead of being simply causative to ASD. Environments, both internal and external, also play important roles in ASD's etiology. Early exposure to androgenic hormones and early maternal immune activation comprise environmental factors affecting sex-specific susceptibility to ASD. The gene-environment interactions underlying ASD, suggested here, implicate early prenatal stress as being especially detrimental to boys with a vulnerable genotype.Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology 04/2014; 35(3). DOI:10.1016/j.yfrne.2014.03.006 · 7.58 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is defined by behavioral deficits in social interaction, communication, repetitive stereotyped behaviors and restricted interests/ cognitive rigidity. Recent studies in humans and mice suggested that dysfunction of the cholinergic system may underlie autism-related behavioral symptoms. Here we tested the hypothesis that augmentation of acetylcholine in the synaptic cleft by inhibiting acetylcholinesterase may ameliorate autistic phenotypes. We first administered the acetylcholinesterase inhibitor (AChEI) Donepezil systemically by intraperitoneal (i.p.) injections. Second, the drug was injected directly into the rodent homologue of the caudate nucleus, the dorso-medial-striatum (DMS), of the inbred mouse strain BTBR T+tf/J (BTBR), a commonly-used model presenting all core autism-related phenotypes and expressing low brain acetylcholine levels. We found that i.p. injection of AChEI to BTBR mice significantly relieved autism-relevant phenotypes, including decreasing cognitive rigidity, improving social preference and enhancing social interaction, in a dose dependent manner. Microinjection of the drug directly into the DMS, but not into the ventromedial striatum, led to significant amelioration of the cognitive-rigidity and social-deficiency phenotypes. Taken together, these findings provide evidence of the key role of the cholinergic system and the DMS in the etiology of ASD, and suggest that elevated cognitive flexibility may result in enhanced social attention. The potential therapeutic effect of AChEIs in ASD patients is discussed.Neuropsychopharmacology accepted article preview online, 7 October 2013. doi:10.1038/npp.2013.274.Neuropsychopharmacology: official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology 10/2013; DOI:10.1038/npp.2013.274 · 7.83 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Synaptic adhesion-like molecules (SALMs) are a family of cell adhesion molecules involved in neurite outgrowth and synapse formation. Of the five family members, only SALM1, -2, and -3 contain a cytoplasmic C-terminal PDZ-binding motif. We have found that SALM1 is unique among the SALMs because deletion of its PDZ-binding motif (SALM1ΔPDZ) blocks its surface expression in heterologous cells. When expressed in hippocampal neurons, SALM1ΔPDZ had decreased surface expression in dendrites and the cell soma but not in axons, suggesting that the PDZ-binding domain may influence cellular trafficking of SALMs to specific neuronal locations. Endoglycosidase H digestion assays indicated that SALM1ΔPDZ is retained in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) in heterologous cells. However, when the entire C-terminal tail of SALM1 was deleted, SALM1 was detected on the cell surface. Using serial deletions, we identified a region of SALM1 that contains a putative dileucine ER retention motif, which is not present in the other SALMs. Mutation of this DXXXLL motif allowed SALM1 to leave the ER and enhanced its surface expression in heterologous cells and neurons. An increase in the number of protrusions at the dendrites and cell body was observed when this SALM1 mutant was expressed in hippocampal neurons. With electron microscopy, these protrusions appeared to be irregular, enlarged spines and filopodia. Thus, enrichment of SALM1 on the cell surface affects dendritic arborization, and intracellular motifs regulate its dendritic versus axonal localization.Journal of Biological Chemistry 12/2011; 287(7):4470-84. DOI:10.1074/jbc.M111.279661 · 4.60 Impact Factor