Publications by authors named "Nuala Sykes"

13 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Individual common variants exert weak effects on the risk for autism spectrum disorders.

Hum Mol Genet 2012 Nov 26;21(21):4781-92. Epub 2012 Jul 26.

Autism Genetics Group, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Trinity College, Dublin 8, Ireland.

While it is apparent that rare variation can play an important role in the genetic architecture of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), the contribution of common variation to the risk of developing ASD is less clear. To produce a more comprehensive picture, we report Stage 2 of the Autism Genome Project genome-wide association study, adding 1301 ASD families and bringing the total to 2705 families analysed (Stages 1 and 2). In addition to evaluating the association of individual single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), we also sought evidence that common variants, en masse, might affect the risk. Despite genotyping over a million SNPs covering the genome, no single SNP shows significant association with ASD or selected phenotypes at a genome-wide level. The SNP that achieves the smallest P-value from secondary analyses is rs1718101. It falls in CNTNAP2, a gene previously implicated in susceptibility for ASD. This SNP also shows modest association with age of word/phrase acquisition in ASD subjects, of interest because features of language development are also associated with other variation in CNTNAP2. In contrast, allele scores derived from the transmission of common alleles to Stage 1 cases significantly predict case status in the independent Stage 2 sample. Despite being significant, the variance explained by these allele scores was small (Vm< 1%). Based on results from individual SNPs and their en masse effect on risk, as inferred from the allele score results, it is reasonable to conclude that common variants affect the risk for ASD but their individual effects are modest.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/dds301DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3471395PMC
November 2012

CNVs leading to fusion transcripts in individuals with autism spectrum disorder.

Eur J Hum Genet 2012 Nov 2;20(11):1141-7. Epub 2012 May 2.

Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.

There is strong evidence that rare copy number variants (CNVs) have a role in susceptibility to autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Much research has focused on how CNVs mediate a phenotypic effect by altering gene expression levels. We investigated an alternative mechanism whereby CNVs combine the 5' and 3' ends of two genes, creating a 'fusion gene'. Any resulting mRNA with an open reading frame could potentially alter the phenotype via a gain-of-function mechanism. We examined 2382 and 3096 rare CNVs from 996 individuals with ASD and 1287 controls, respectively, for potential to generate fusion transcripts. There was no increased burden in individuals with ASD; 122/996 cases harbored at least one rare CNV of this type, compared with 179/1287 controls (P=0.89). There was also no difference in the overall frequency distribution between cases and controls. We examined specific examples of such CNVs nominated by case-control analysis and a candidate approach. Accordingly, a duplication involving REEP1-POLR1A (found in 3/996 cases and 0/1287 controls) and a single occurrence CNV involving KIAA0319-TDP2 were tested. However, no fusion transcripts were detected by RT-PCR. Analysis of additional samples based on cell line availability resulted in validation of a MAPKAPK5-ACAD10 fusion transcript in two probands. However, this variant was present in controls at a similar rate and is unlikely to influence ASD susceptibility. In summary, although we find no evidence that fusion-gene generating CNVs lead to ASD susceptibility, discovery of a MAPKAPK5-ACAD10 transcript with an estimated frequency of ~1/200 suggests that gain-of-function mechanisms should be considered in future CNVs studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ejhg.2012.73DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3476715PMC
November 2012

A novel approach of homozygous haplotype sharing identifies candidate genes in autism spectrum disorder.

Hum Genet 2012 Apr 14;131(4):565-79. Epub 2011 Oct 14.

School of Medicine and Medical Science University College, Dublin, Ireland.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a highly heritable disorder of complex and heterogeneous aetiology. It is primarily characterized by altered cognitive ability including impaired language and communication skills and fundamental deficits in social reciprocity. Despite some notable successes in neuropsychiatric genetics, overall, the high heritability of ASD (~90%) remains poorly explained by common genetic risk variants. However, recent studies suggest that rare genomic variation, in particular copy number variation, may account for a significant proportion of the genetic basis of ASD. We present a large scale analysis to identify candidate genes which may contain low-frequency recessive variation contributing to ASD while taking into account the potential contribution of population differences to the genetic heterogeneity of ASD. Our strategy, homozygous haplotype (HH) mapping, aims to detect homozygous segments of identical haplotype structure that are shared at a higher frequency amongst ASD patients compared to parental controls. The analysis was performed on 1,402 Autism Genome Project trios genotyped for 1 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). We identified 25 known and 1,218 novel ASD candidate genes in the discovery analysis including CADM2, ABHD14A, CHRFAM7A, GRIK2, GRM3, EPHA3, FGF10, KCND2, PDZK1, IMMP2L and FOXP2. Furthermore, 10 of the previously reported ASD genes and 300 of the novel candidates identified in the discovery analysis were replicated in an independent sample of 1,182 trios. Our results demonstrate that regions of HH are significantly enriched for previously reported ASD candidate genes and the observed association is independent of gene size (odds ratio 2.10). Our findings highlight the applicability of HH mapping in complex disorders such as ASD and offer an alternative approach to the analysis of genome-wide association data.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00439-011-1094-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3303079PMC
April 2012

A genome-wide scan for common alleles affecting risk for autism.

Hum Mol Genet 2010 Oct 27;19(20):4072-82. Epub 2010 Jul 27.

Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Trinity College, Dublin 8, Ireland.

Although autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) have a substantial genetic basis, most of the known genetic risk has been traced to rare variants, principally copy number variants (CNVs). To identify common risk variation, the Autism Genome Project (AGP) Consortium genotyped 1558 rigorously defined ASD families for 1 million single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and analyzed these SNP genotypes for association with ASD. In one of four primary association analyses, the association signal for marker rs4141463, located within MACROD2, crossed the genome-wide association significance threshold of P < 5 × 10(-8). When a smaller replication sample was analyzed, the risk allele at rs4141463 was again over-transmitted; yet, consistent with the winner's curse, its effect size in the replication sample was much smaller; and, for the combined samples, the association signal barely fell below the P < 5 × 10(-8) threshold. Exploratory analyses of phenotypic subtypes yielded no significant associations after correction for multiple testing. They did, however, yield strong signals within several genes, KIAA0564, PLD5, POU6F2, ST8SIA2 and TAF1C.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddq307DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2947401PMC
October 2010

Functional impact of global rare copy number variation in autism spectrum disorders.

Nature 2010 Jul 9;466(7304):368-72. Epub 2010 Jun 9.

The Centre for Applied Genomics and Program in Genetics and Genomic Biology, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario M5G 1L7, Canada.

The autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of conditions characterized by impairments in reciprocal social interaction and communication, and the presence of restricted and repetitive behaviours. Individuals with an ASD vary greatly in cognitive development, which can range from above average to intellectual disability. Although ASDs are known to be highly heritable ( approximately 90%), the underlying genetic determinants are still largely unknown. Here we analysed the genome-wide characteristics of rare (<1% frequency) copy number variation in ASD using dense genotyping arrays. When comparing 996 ASD individuals of European ancestry to 1,287 matched controls, cases were found to carry a higher global burden of rare, genic copy number variants (CNVs) (1.19 fold, P = 0.012), especially so for loci previously implicated in either ASD and/or intellectual disability (1.69 fold, P = 3.4 x 10(-4)). Among the CNVs there were numerous de novo and inherited events, sometimes in combination in a given family, implicating many novel ASD genes such as SHANK2, SYNGAP1, DLGAP2 and the X-linked DDX53-PTCHD1 locus. We also discovered an enrichment of CNVs disrupting functional gene sets involved in cellular proliferation, projection and motility, and GTPase/Ras signalling. Our results reveal many new genetic and functional targets in ASD that may lead to final connected pathways.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature09146DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3021798PMC
July 2010

Copy number variation and association analysis of SHANK3 as a candidate gene for autism in the IMGSAC collection.

Eur J Hum Genet 2009 Oct 22;17(10):1347-53. Epub 2009 Apr 22.

Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.

SHANK3 is located on chromosome 22q13.3 and encodes a scaffold protein that is found in excitatory synapses opposite the pre-synaptic active zone. SHANK3 is a binding partner of neuroligins, some of whose genes contain mutations in a small subset of individuals with autism. In individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), several studies have found SHANK3 to be disrupted by deletions ranging from hundreds of kilobases to megabases, suggesting that 1% of individuals with ASDs may have these chromosomal aberrations. To further analyse the involvement of SHANK3 in ASD, we screened the International Molecular Genetic Study of Autism Consortium (IMGSAC) multiplex family sample, 330 families, for SNP association and copy number variants (CNVs) in SHANK3. A collection of 76 IMGSAC Italian probands from singleton families was also examined by multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification for CNVs. No CNVs or SNP associations were found within the sample set, although sequencing of the gene was not performed. Our data suggest that SHANK3 deletions may be limited to lower functioning individuals with autism.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ejhg.2009.47DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2752466PMC
October 2009

MET and autism susceptibility: family and case-control studies.

Eur J Hum Genet 2009 Jun 12;17(6):749-58. Epub 2008 Nov 12.

Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.

Autism is a common, severe and highly heritable neurodevelopmental disorder. The International Molecular Genetic Study of Autism Consortium (IMGSAC) genome screen for linkage in affected sib-pair families identified a chromosome 7q susceptibility locus (AUTS1), that has subsequently shown evidence of increased sharing in several independent multiplex samples and in two meta-analyses. Taking into account the location of the MET gene under this linkage peak, and the fact that it has recently been reported to be associated with autism, the gene was further analyzed as a promising autism candidate. The gene encodes a transmembrane receptor tyrosine kinase of the hepatocyte growth factor/scatter factor (HGF/SF). MET is best known as an oncogene, but its signalling also participates in immune function, peripheral organ development and repair, and the development of the cerebral cortex and cerebellum (all of which have been observed earlier as being disregulated in individuals with autism). Here we present a family-based association analysis covering the entire MET locus. Significant results were obtained in both single locus and haplotype approaches with a single nucleotide polymorphism in intron 1 (rs38845, P<0.004) and with one intronic haplotype (AAGTG, P<0.009) in 325 multiplex IMGSAC families and 10 IMGSAC trios. Although these results failed to replicate in an independent sample of 82 Italian trios, the association itself was confirmed by a case-control analysis performed using the Italian cohort (P<0.02). The previously reported positive association of rs1858830 failed to replicate in this study. Overall, our findings provide further evidence that MET may play a role in autism susceptibility.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ejhg.2008.215DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2685893PMC
June 2009

Autism: the quest for the genes.

Expert Rev Mol Med 2007 Sep 3;9(24):1-15. Epub 2007 Sep 3.

Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, UK.

Autism, at its most extreme, is a severe neurodevelopmental disorder, and recent studies have indicated that autism spectrum disorders are considerably more common than previously supposed. However, although one of the most heritable neuropsychiatric syndromes, autism has so far eluded attempts to discover its genetic origins in the majority of cases. Several whole-genome scans for autism-susceptibility loci have identified specific chromosomal regions, but the results have been inconclusive and fine mapping and association studies have failed to identify the underlying genes. Recent advances in knowledge from the Human Genome and HapMap Projects, and progress in technology and bioinformatic resources, have aided study design and made data generation more efficient and cost-effective. Broadening horizons about the landscape of structural genetic variation and the field of epigenetics are indicating new possible mechanisms underlying autism aetiology, while endophenotypes are being used in an attempt to break down the complexity of the syndrome and refine genetic data. Although the genetic variants underlying idiopathic autism have proven elusive so far, the future for this field looks promising.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1462399407000452DOI Listing
September 2007

Mapping autism risk loci using genetic linkage and chromosomal rearrangements.

Nat Genet 2007 Mar 18;39(3):319-28. Epub 2007 Feb 18.

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario L8N 3Z5, Canada.

Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are common, heritable neurodevelopmental conditions. The genetic architecture of ASDs is complex, requiring large samples to overcome heterogeneity. Here we broaden coverage and sample size relative to other studies of ASDs by using Affymetrix 10K SNP arrays and 1,181 [corrected] families with at least two affected individuals, performing the largest linkage scan to date while also analyzing copy number variation in these families. Linkage and copy number variation analyses implicate chromosome 11p12-p13 and neurexins, respectively, among other candidate loci. Neurexins team with previously implicated neuroligins for glutamatergic synaptogenesis, highlighting glutamate-related genes as promising candidates for contributing to ASDs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ng1985DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4867008PMC
March 2007

Identification of FOXP2 truncation as a novel cause of developmental speech and language deficits.

Am J Hum Genet 2005 Jun 22;76(6):1074-80. Epub 2005 Apr 22.

Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.

FOXP2, the first gene to have been implicated in a developmental communication disorder, offers a unique entry point into neuromolecular mechanisms influencing human speech and language acquisition. In multiple members of the well-studied KE family, a heterozygous missense mutation in FOXP2 causes problems in sequencing muscle movements required for articulating speech (developmental verbal dyspraxia), accompanied by wider deficits in linguistic and grammatical processing. Chromosomal rearrangements involving this locus have also been identified. Analyses of FOXP2 coding sequence in typical forms of specific language impairment (SLI), autism, and dyslexia have not uncovered any etiological variants. However, no previous study has performed mutation screening of children with a primary diagnosis of verbal dyspraxia, the most overt feature of the disorder in affected members of the KE family. Here, we report investigations of the entire coding region of FOXP2, including alternatively spliced exons, in 49 probands affected with verbal dyspraxia. We detected variants that alter FOXP2 protein sequence in three probands. One such variant is a heterozygous nonsense mutation that yields a dramatically truncated protein product and cosegregates with speech and language difficulties in the proband, his affected sibling, and their mother. Our discovery of the first nonsense mutation in FOXP2 now opens the door for detailed investigations of neurodevelopment in people carrying different etiological variants of the gene. This endeavor will be crucial for gaining insight into the role of FOXP2 in human cognition.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/430841DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1196445PMC
June 2005

Candidate-gene screening and association analysis at the autism-susceptibility locus on chromosome 16p: evidence of association at GRIN2A and ABAT.

Am J Hum Genet 2005 Jun 13;76(6):950-66. Epub 2005 Apr 13.

Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.

Autism is a highly heritable neurodevelopmental disorder whose underlying genetic causes have yet to be identified. To date, there have been eight genome screens for autism, two of which identified a putative susceptibility locus on chromosome 16p. In the present study, 10 positional candidate genes that map to 16p11-13 were examined for coding variants: A2BP1, ABAT, BFAR, CREBBP, EMP2, GRIN2A, MRTF-B, SSTR5, TBX6, and UBN1. Screening of all coding and regulatory regions by denaturing high-performance liquid chromatography identified seven nonsynonymous changes. Five of these mutations were found to cosegregate with autism, but the mutations are not predicted to have deleterious effects on protein structure and are unlikely to represent significant etiological variants. Selected variants from candidate genes were genotyped in the entire International Molecular Genetics Study of Autism Consortium collection of 239 multiplex families and were tested for association with autism by use of the pedigree disequilibrium test. Additionally, genotype frequencies were compared between 239 unrelated affected individuals and 192 controls. Patterns of linkage disequilibrium were investigated, and the transmission of haplotypes across candidate genes was tested for association. Evidence of single-marker association was found for variants in ABAT, CREBBP, and GRIN2A. Within these genes, 12 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were subsequently genotyped in 91 autism trios (one affected individual and two unaffected parents), and the association was replicated within GRIN2A (Fisher's exact test, P<.0001). Logistic regression analysis of SNP data across GRIN2A and ABAT showed a trend toward haplotypic differences between cases and controls.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/430454DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1196454PMC
June 2005

Mutation screening and association analysis of six candidate genes for autism on chromosome 7q.

Eur J Hum Genet 2005 Feb;13(2):198-207

The Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Roosevelt Drive, Oxford OX3 7BN, UK.

Genetic studies have provided evidence for an autism susceptibility locus (AUTS1) on chromosome 7q. Screening for mutations in six genes mapping to 7q, CUTL1, SRPK2, SYPL, LAMB1, NRCAM and PTPRZ1 in 48 unrelated individuals with autism led to the identification of several new coding variants in the genes CUTL1, LAMB1 and PTPRZ1. Analysis of genetic variants provided evidence for association with autism for one of the new missense changes identified in LAMB1; this effect was stronger in a subgroup of affected male sibling pair families, implying a possible specific sex-related effect for this variant. Association was also detected for several polymorphisms in the promoter and untranslated region of NRCAM, suggesting that alterations in expression of this gene may be linked to autism susceptibility.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/sj.ejhg.5201315DOI Listing
February 2005

A novel family with an unusual early-onset generalized dystonia.

Mov Disord 2005 Jan;20(1):81-6

Department of Neurological Sciences, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy.

We report on an Italian family in which three brothers and their maternal grandfather had a generalized early-onset dystonia with mild parkinsonian signs. Genetic testing excluded the rapid-onset dystonia-parkinsonism locus (DYT12; OMIM*128235), autosomal recessive Parkin locus (PARK2; OMIM *602544), and DYT1 dystonia. Three affected siblings were found to share an identical haplotype at the X-linked dystonia-parkinsonism locus (XDP; Lubag; OMIM*314250). This haplotype differed from the haplotype observed in Filipino patients, ruling out the hypothesis of a common underlying mutation. In addition, direct sequencing analysis of the putative disease causing changes observed in Filipino patients were not found in the Italian patients. The condition we describe could be a newly recognized dystonia syndrome with parkinsonism.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mds.20267DOI Listing
January 2005