December 20, 2021  |  

Germline mosaicism of a missense variant in KCNC2 in a multiplex family with autism and epilepsy

Currently, protein-coding de novo variants and large copy number variants have been identified as important for ∼30% of individuals with autism. One approach to identify relevant variation in individuals who lack these types of events is by utilizing newer genomic technologies. In this study, highly accurate PacBio HiFi long-read sequencing was applied to a family with autism, treatment-refractory epilepsy, cognitive impairment, and mild dysmorphic features (two affected female full siblings, parents, and one unaffected sibling) with no known clinical variant. From our long-read sequencing data, a de novo missense variant in the KCNC2 gene (encodes Kv3.2 protein) was identified in both affected children. This variant was phased to the paternal chromosome of origin and is likely a germline mosaic. In silico assessment of the variant revealed it was in the top 0.05% of all conserved bases in the genome, and was predicted damaging by Polyphen2, MutationTaster, and SIFT. It was not present in any controls from public genome databases nor in a joint-call set we generated across 49 individuals with publicly available PacBio HiFi data. This specific missense mutation (Val473Ala) has been shown in both an ortholog and paralog of Kv3.2 to accelerate current decay, shift the voltage dependence of activation, and prevent the channel from entering a long-lasting open state. Seven additional missense mutations have been identified in other individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders (p = 1.03 × 10−5). KCNC2 is most highly expressed in the brain; in particular, in the thalamus and is enriched in GABAergic neurons. Long-read sequencing was useful in discovering the relevant variant in this family with autism that had remained a mystery for several years and will potentially have great benefits in the clinic once it is widely available.

September 22, 2019  |  

Searching for convergent pathways in autism spectrum disorders: insights from human brain transcriptome studies.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is one of the most heritable neuropsychiatric conditions. The complex genetic landscape of the disorder includes both common and rare variants at hundreds of genetic loci. This marked heterogeneity has thus far hampered efforts to develop genetic diagnostic panels and targeted pharmacological therapies. Here, we give an overview of the current literature on the genetic basis of ASD, and review recent human brain transcriptome studies and their role in identifying convergent pathways downstream of the heterogeneous genetic variants. We also discuss emerging evidence on the involvement of non-coding genomic regions and non-coding RNAs in ASD.

September 22, 2019  |  

Cartography of neurexin alternative splicing mapped by single-molecule long-read mRNA sequencing.

Neurexins are evolutionarily conserved presynaptic cell-adhesion molecules that are essential for normal synapse formation and synaptic transmission. Indirect evidence has indicated that extensive alternative splicing of neurexin mRNAs may produce hundreds if not thousands of neurexin isoforms, but no direct evidence for such diversity has been available. Here we use unbiased long-read sequencing of full-length neurexin (Nrxn)1a, Nrxn1ß, Nrxn2ß, Nrxn3a, and Nrxn3ß mRNAs to systematically assess how many sites of alternative splicing are used in neurexins with a significant frequency, and whether alternative splicing events at these sites are independent of each other. In sequencing more than 25,000 full-length mRNAs, we identified a novel, abundantly used alternatively spliced exon of Nrxn1a and Nrxn3a (referred to as alternatively spliced sequence 6) that encodes a 9-residue insertion in the flexible hinge region between the fifth LNS (laminin-a, neurexin, sex hormone-binding globulin) domain and the third EGF-like sequence. In addition, we observed several larger-scale events of alternative splicing that deleted multiple domains and were much less frequent than the canonical six sites of alternative splicing in neurexins. All of the six canonical events of alternative splicing appear to be independent of each other, suggesting that neurexins may exhibit an even larger isoform diversity than previously envisioned and comprise thousands of variants. Our data are consistent with the notion that a-neurexins represent extracellular protein-interaction scaffolds in which different LNS and EGF domains mediate distinct interactions that affect diverse functions and are independently regulated by independent events of alternative splicing.

July 19, 2019  |  

Palindromic GOLGA8 core duplicons promote chromosome 15q13.3 microdeletion and evolutionary instability.

Recurrent deletions of chromosome 15q13.3 associate with intellectual disability, schizophrenia, autism and epilepsy. To gain insight into the instability of this region, we sequenced it in affected individuals, normal individuals and nonhuman primates. We discovered five structural configurations of the human chromosome 15q13.3 region ranging in size from 2 to 3 Mb. These configurations arose recently (~0.5-0.9 million years ago) as a result of human-specific expansions of segmental duplications and two independent inversion events. All inversion breakpoints map near GOLGA8 core duplicons-a ~14-kb primate-specific chromosome 15 repeat that became organized into larger palindromic structures. GOLGA8-flanked palindromes also demarcate the breakpoints of recurrent 15q13.3 microdeletions, the expansion of chromosome 15 segmental duplications in the human lineage and independent structural changes in apes. The significant clustering (P = 0.002) of breakpoints provides mechanistic evidence for the role of this core duplicon and its palindromic architecture in promoting the evolutionary and disease-related instability of chromosome 15.

July 19, 2019  |  

Emergence of a Homo sapiens-specific gene family and chromosome 16p11.2 CNV susceptibility.

Genetic differences that specify unique aspects of human evolution have typically been identified by comparative analyses between the genomes of humans and closely related primates, including more recently the genomes of archaic hominins. Not all regions of the genome, however, are equally amenable to such study. Recurrent copy number variation (CNV) at chromosome 16p11.2 accounts for approximately 1% of cases of autism and is mediated by a complex set of segmental duplications, many of which arose recently during human evolution. Here we reconstruct the evolutionary history of the locus and identify bolA family member 2 (BOLA2) as a gene duplicated exclusively in Homo sapiens. We estimate that a 95-kilobase-pair segment containing BOLA2 duplicated across the critical region approximately 282 thousand years ago (ka), one of the latest among a series of genomic changes that dramatically restructured the locus during hominid evolution. All humans examined carried one or more copies of the duplication, which nearly fixed early in the human lineage-a pattern unlikely to have arisen so rapidly in the absence of selection (P?

July 7, 2019  |  

Genomic patterns of de novo mutation in simplex autism.

To further our understanding of the genetic etiology of autism, we generated and analyzed genome sequence data from 516 idiopathic autism families (2,064 individuals). This resource includes >59 million single-nucleotide variants (SNVs) and 9,212 private copy number variants (CNVs), of which 133,992 and 88 are de novo mutations (DNMs), respectively. We estimate a mutation rate of ~1.5 × 10(-8) SNVs per site per generation with a significantly higher mutation rate in repetitive DNA. Comparing probands and unaffected siblings, we observe several DNM trends. Probands carry more gene-disruptive CNVs and SNVs, resulting in severe missense mutations and mapping to predicted fetal brain promoters and embryonic stem cell enhancers. These differences become more pronounced for autism genes (p = 1.8 × 10(-3), OR = 2.2). Patients are more likely to carry multiple coding and noncoding DNMs in different genes, which are enriched for expression in striatal neurons (p = 3 × 10(-3)), suggesting a path forward for genetically characterizing more complex cases of autism. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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