Novel genes for autism implicate both excitatory and inhibitory cell lineages in risk Academic Article uri icon


  • We present the largest exome sequencing study to date focused on rare variation in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) (n=35,584). Integrating de novo and case-control variation with an enhanced Bayesian framework incorporating evolutionary constraint against mutation, we implicate 99 genes in ASD risk at a false discovery rate (FDR) ≤ 0.1. Of these 99 risk genes, 46 show higher frequencies of disruptive de novo variants in individuals ascertained for severe neurodevelopmental delay, while 50 show higher frequencies in individuals ascertained for ASD, and comparing ASD cases with disruptive mutations in the two groups shows differences in phenotypic presentation. Expressed early in brain development, most of the risk genes have roles in neuronal communication or regulation of gene expression, and 12 fall within recurrent copy number variant loci. In human cortex single-cell gene expression data, expression of the 99 risk genes is also enriched in both excitatory and inhibitory neuronal lineages, implying that disruption of these genes alters the development of both neuron types. Together, these insights broaden our understanding of the neurobiology of ASD.


publication date

  • January 1, 2018