13 December 2016

Autism Mutation Study Discovers The Obvious

To the surprise of no one, mutations in people with autism tend to effect the "essential genes" in a person as opposed to the not very important, you could do just fine without them, genes in the human genome. Who knew?

A paper with the same theme, but a less obvious conclusion has the following abstract and citation:
Genetic susceptibility to Intellectual disability (ID), autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and schizophrenia (SCZ) often arises from mutations in the same genes, suggesting that they share common mechanisms. We studied genes with de novo mutations in the three disorders and genes implicated by SCZ genome-wide association study (GWAS). Using biological annotations and brain gene expression, we show that mutation class explains enrichment patterns more than specific disorder. Genes with loss of function mutations and genes with missense mutations were enriched with different pathways, shared with genes intolerant to mutations. Specific gene expression patterns were found for each disorder. ID genes were preferentially expressed in fetal cortex, ASD genes also in fetal cerebellum and striatum, and genes associated with SCZ were most significantly enriched in adolescent cortex. Our study suggests that convergence across neuropsychiatric disorders stems from vulnerable pathways to genetic variations, but spatiotemporal activity of genes contributes to specific phenotypes.

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