Global increases in both common and rare copy number load associated with autism

Santhosh Girirajan, Rebecca L. Johnson, Flora Tassone, Jorune Balciuniene, Neerja Katiyar, Keolu Fox, Carl Baker, Abhinaya Srikanth, Kian Hui Yeoh, Su Jen Khoo, Therese B. Nauth, Robin Hansen, Marylyn Ritchie, Irva Hertz-Picciotto, Evan E. Eichler, Isaac N. Pessah, Scott B. Selleck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Children with autismhave an elevated frequency of large, rare copy number variants (CNVs). However, the global load of deletions or duplications, per se, and their size, location and relationship to clinical manifestations of autism have not been documented. We examined CNV data from 516 individuals with autism or typical development from the population-based Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and Environment (CHARGE) study. We interrogated 120 regions flanked by segmental duplications (genomic hotspots) for events >50 kbp and the entire genomic backbone for variants >300 kbp using a custom targeted DNA microarray. This analysis was complemented by a separate study of five highly dynamic hotspots associated with autismor developmental delay syndromes, using a finely tiled array platform (>1 kbp) in 142 children matched for gender and ethnicity. In both studies, a significant increase in the number of base pairs of duplication, but not deletion, was associated with autism. Significantly elevated levels of CNV load remained after the removal of rare and likely pathogenic events. Further, the entire CNV load detected with the finely tiled array was contributed by common variants. The impact of this variation was assessed by examining the correlation of clinical outcomes with CNV load. The level of personal and social skills, measured by Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, negatively correlated (Spearman's r5 20.13, P 5 0.034) with the duplication CNV load for the affected children; the strongest association was found for communication (P 5 0.048) and socialization (P 5 0.022) scores. We propose that CNV load, predominantly increased genomic base pairs of duplication, predisposes to autism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberddt136
Pages (from-to)2870-2880
Number of pages11
JournalHuman molecular genetics
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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