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PLoS Genet. 2011 Nov;7(11):e1002334. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1002334. Epub 2011 Nov 10.

Relative burden of large CNVs on a range of neurodevelopmental phenotypes.

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Department of Genome Sciences, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, Washington, United States of America.


While numerous studies have implicated copy number variants (CNVs) in a range of neurological phenotypes, the impact relative to disease severity has been difficult to ascertain due to small sample sizes, lack of phenotypic details, and heterogeneity in platforms used for discovery. Using a customized microarray enriched for genomic hotspots, we assayed for large CNVs among 1,227 individuals with various neurological deficits including dyslexia (376), sporadic autism (350), and intellectual disability (ID) (501), as well as 337 controls. We show that the frequency of large CNVs (>1 Mbp) is significantly greater for ID-associated phenotypes compared to autism (p = 9.58 × 10(-11), odds ratio = 4.59), dyslexia (p = 3.81 × 10(-18), odds ratio = 14.45), or controls (p = 2.75 × 10(-17), odds ratio = 13.71). There is a striking difference in the frequency of rare CNVs (>50 kbp) in autism (10%, p = 2.4 × 10(-6), odds ratio = 6) or ID (16%, p = 3.55 × 10(-12), odds ratio = 10) compared to dyslexia (2%) with essentially no difference in large CNV burden among dyslexia patients compared to controls. Rare CNVs were more likely to arise de novo (64%) in ID when compared to autism (40%) or dyslexia (0%). We observed a significantly increased large CNV burden in individuals with ID and multiple congenital anomalies (MCA) compared to ID alone (p = 0.001, odds ratio = 2.54). Our data suggest that large CNV burden positively correlates with the severity of childhood disability: ID with MCA being most severely affected and dyslexics being indistinguishable from controls. When autism without ID was considered separately, the increase in CNV burden was modest compared to controls (p = 0.07, odds ratio = 2.33).

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Conflict of interest statement

EEE is on the scientific advisory board for Pacific Biosciences.

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