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Link to Autism in Boys Found in Missing DNA

Published: 2010-09-16 - Updated: 2023-01-04
Author: Center for Addiction and Mental Health | Contact: camh.ca
Peer-Reviewed Publication: Yes | DOI: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/scitranslmed.3001267
Additional References: Autism Information Publications

Synopsis: Clues as to why Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects four times more males than females. ASD is a neurological disorder that affects brain functioning, resulting in challenges with communication and social interaction, unusual patterns of behavior, and often, intellectual deficits. Boys are boys because they inherit one X-chromosome from their mother and one Y-chromosome from their father. If a boy's X-chromosome is missing the PTCHD1 gene or other nearby DNA sequences, they will be at high risk of developing ASD or intellectual disability.

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Definition

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. Some people with ASD have a known difference, such as a genetic condition. Other causes are not yet known. People with ASD may behave, communicate, interact, and learn in ways that are different from most others. ASD begins before the age of 3 years and can last throughout a person’s life, although symptoms may improve over time. The abilities of people with ASD vary significantly.

Main Digest

New research from the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), both in Toronto, Canada, provides further clues as to why Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects four times more males than females.

Related Publications:

The scientists discovered that males who carry specific DNA alterations on the sole X-chromosome are at high risk of developing ASD. The research is published in the September 15 issue of Science Translational Medicine.

ASD is a neurological disorder that affects brain functioning, resulting in challenges with communication and social interaction, unusual patterns of behavior, and intellectual deficits. ASD affects one in every 120 children and a startling one in 70 boys. Though all of the causes of ASD are unknown, research has increasingly pointed towards genetic factors; in recent years, several genes involved in ASD have successfully been identified.

The research team was led by Dr. John B. Vincent, Senior Scientist and head of CAMH's Molecular Neuropsychiatry and Development Laboratory, and Dr. Stephen Scherer, Senior Scientist and Director of The Center for Applied Genomics at SickKids, and Director of the McLaughlin Center at the University of Toronto.

The scientists analyzed the gene sequences of 2,000 individuals with ASD and others with an intellectual disability and compared the results to thousands of population controls. They found that about one percent of boys with ASD had mutations in the PTCHD1 gene on the X-chromosome. Similar mutations were not found in thousands of male controls. Also, sisters carrying the same mutation are seemingly unaffected.

"We believe that the PTCHD1 gene has a role in a neurobiological pathway that delivers information to cells during brain development - this specific mutation may disrupt crucial developmental processes, contributing to the onset of autism." said Dr. Vincent. "Our discovery will facilitate early detection, which will, in turn, increase the likelihood of successful interventions."

"The male gender bias in autism has intrigued us for years, and now we have an indicator that starts to explain why this may be," says Dr. Scherer. "Boys are boys because they inherit one X-chromosome from their mother and one Y-chromosome from their father. If a boy's X-chromosome is missing the PTCHD1 gene or other nearby DNA sequences, they will be at high risk of developing ASD or intellectual disability. Girls are different in that, even if they are missing one PTCHD1 gene, by nature, they always carry a second X-chromosome, shielding them from ASD." Scherer adds, "While these women are protected, autism could appear in future generations of boys in their families."

Researchers hope further investigation into the PTCHD1 gene will also indicate potential avenues for new therapy.

Study Funding:

The funding to the Canadian team came from public and private partners, including major awards and support from Autism Speaks, Genome Canada through the Ontario Genomics Institute, the McLaughlin Center, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Ontario's Ministry of Research and Innovation, the Ontario Innovation Trust, the Catherine and Maxwell Meighen Foundation, the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, the Ontario's Premier's Summit Award in Medical Research, The Center for Applied Genomics, the Chedoke Health Corporation, the Mayberry Family Fund, the Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation and the SickKids Foundation.

Competing Interests:

CAMH and HSC have jointly applied for intellectual property protection and a patent on PTCHD1 as a gene for autism. Scherer also holds the GlaxoSmithKline-CIHR Endowed Chair in Genetics and Genomics at SickKids and the University of Toronto.

Also See:

Reference Source(s):

Link to Autism in Boys Found in Missing DNA | Center for Addiction and Mental Health (camh.ca). Disabled World makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith. Content may have been edited for style, clarity or length.

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Cite This Page (APA): Center for Addiction and Mental Health. (2010, September 16). Link to Autism in Boys Found in Missing DNA. Disabled World. Retrieved January 29, 2023 from www.disabled-world.com/health/neurology/autism/dna.php

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