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Overlapping Copy Number Variations Underlie ASD and Schizophrenia

Summary: A new study reports Japanese people with autism and schizophrenia have overlapping CNVs.

Source: Cell Press.

Common genetic variants may underlie autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia across human populations, according to a study appearing September 11th in the journal Cell Reports. In line with previous studies in Caucasians, the researchers found that Japanese individuals with autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia have overlapping copy number variations (CNVs)–inter-individual variations in the number of copies of a particular gene.

“The strength of our study is the systematic head-to-head comparison of pathogenic CNVs and biological pathways between autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia,” says senior study author Norio Ozaki of Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine. “Previous studies in Caucasian populations found overlap in pathogenic CNVs between the two disorders, but their analyses were limited to a small number of genes and CNV loci.”

Autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia have complex inheritance patterns, with multiple genetic and environmental factors influencing disease risk. Available evidence points to genetic overlap between the two clinically distinct disorders. For example, they tend to co-occur at a higher rate than would be expected in the general population, and a large epidemiological study showed that a family history of schizophrenia in first-degree relatives is a risk factor for autism spectrum disorder. In particular, previous studies have revealed that these two disorders are associated with an increased burden of CNVs, and that rare CNVs in specific loci are shared risk factors for both disorders.

However, the majority of the previous CNV studies were carried out in Caucasian populations, limiting the generalization of pathogenic CNVs and relevant biological pathways. Studies in populations other than Caucasians may also provide additional biological insights into the disorders. Moreover, the clinical features of patients with pathogenic CNVs have not been fully examined in non-Caucasian populations. Until now, no studies have directly compared pathogenic CNVs and biological pathways between autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia in non-Caucasian populations.

To address this gap in knowledge, Ozaki and his team performed comparative CNV analyses of 1,108 cases of autism spectrum disorder, 2,458 individuals with schizophrenia, and 2,095 controls in a Japanese population using a high-resolution technique called array comparative genomic hybridization. They confirmed an increased genome-wide burden of rare CNVs in autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia and observed an overlap in pathogenic CNVs between the two disorders. Pathogenic CNVs, including those at 29 loci common to both disorders, were found in about 8% of the two types of patients, which was significantly higher than in controls.

“Genetic overlap has been suggested in epidemiological and molecular genetic studies,” says first author Itaru Kushima of Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine. “In line with this, our systematic and comprehensive investigation confirmed a significant overlap of pathogenic CNVs between autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia in a Japanese population.”

This visual abstract depicts the comparative analyses of CNV in autism and schizophrenia. NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to Itaru Kushima, Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine.

Additional analysis revealed that both disorders are associated overlapping biological pathways involved in the oxidative stress response, lipid metabolism, and genomic integrity. The researchers also identified 12 CNV loci potentially associated with these disorders in a Japanese population. Moreover, intellectual disability was strongly associated with pathogenic CNVs in both patient groups. “The identification of shared pathways and disease-relevant genes provides biological insights into autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia,” Ozaki says.

Moving forward, the researchers plan to investigate CNVs in bipolar disorder and examine the overlap of pathogenic CNVs and biological pathways among the three disorders. In the near future, they will also conduct studies using CNV-based animal models, as well as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) derived from patients with pathogenic CNVs.

About this neuroscience research article

Funding: This research was supported by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan; AMED, the UTokyo Center for Integrative Science of Human Behavior (CiSHuB); the International Research Center for Neurointelligence (WPI-IRCN) at The University of Tokyo Institutes for Advanced Study (UTIAS); Research Group For Schizophrenia; Program for Advancing Strategic International Networks to Accelerate the Circulation of Talented Researchers of Japan Society for the Promotion of Science; SENSHIN Medical Research Foundation; and The Uehara Memorial Foundation.

Source: Carly Britton – Cell Press
Publisher: Organized by NeuroscienceNews.com.
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to Itaru Kushima, Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine
Original Research: Open access research for “Comparative Analyses of Copy-Number Variation in Autism Spectrum Disorder and Schizophrenia Reveal Etiological Overlap and Biological Insights” by Kushima et al. in Cell Reports. Published September 11 2018.
doi:10.1016/j.celrep.2018.08.022

Cite This NeuroscienceNews.com Article
Cell Press”Overlapping Copy Number Variations Underlie ASD and Schizophrenia.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 11 September 2018.
<http://neurosciencenews.com/asd-schizophrenia-genetics-9848/>.
Cell Press(2018, September 11). Overlapping Copy Number Variations Underlie ASD and Schizophrenia. NeuroscienceNews. Retrieved September 11, 2018 from http://neurosciencenews.com/asd-schizophrenia-genetics-9848/
Cell Press”Overlapping Copy Number Variations Underlie ASD and Schizophrenia.” http://neurosciencenews.com/asd-schizophrenia-genetics-9848/ (accessed September 11, 2018).

Abstract

Comparative Analyses of Copy-Number Variation in Autism Spectrum Disorder and Schizophrenia Reveal Etiological Overlap and Biological Insights

Compelling evidence in Caucasian populations suggests a role for copy-number variations (CNVs) in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and schizophrenia (SCZ). We analyzed 1,108 ASD cases, 2,458 SCZ cases, and 2,095 controls in a Japanese population and confirmed an increased burden of rare exonic CNVs in both disorders. Clinically significant (or pathogenic) CNVs, including those at 29 loci common to both disorders, were found in about 8% of ASD and SCZ cases, which was significantly higher than in controls. Phenotypic analysis revealed an association between clinically significant CNVs and intellectual disability. Gene set analysis showed significant overlap of biological pathways in both disorders including oxidative stress response, lipid metabolism/modification, and genomic integrity. Finally, based on bioinformatics analysis, we identified multiple disease-relevant genes in eight well-known ASD/SCZ-associated CNV loci (e.g., 22q11.2, 3q29). Our findings suggest an etiological overlap of ASD and SCZ and provide biological insights into these disorders.

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