Purpose: Autism is a chronic neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in reciprocal social interaction, language and communication, and by the presence of stereotypical behaviors. The disorder is a complex genetic trait with no known predisposing genes. We report the results of a pilot project to screen for aberrations in the gene-rich subtelomeric chromosomal regions of a cohort of children with autism.
Methods: For our pilot project, we used a multiprobe system that includes probes for the subtelomeric regions of all human chromosomes. We assessed the subtelomeric regions of chromosomes from 10 children with a diagnosis of autism.
Results: The screen identified one child with an apparent deletion of the subtelomeric region of chromosome 2q; nine children and pooled control samples yielded normal results. The deletion in our patient was confirmed with two other subtelomeric probes and a targeted cytogenetic study revealed a subtle difference in appearance for one chromosome 2 homologue.
Conclusion: There have been several reports of children with dysmorphic features, autistic behaviors, and 2q deletions detectable with standard cytogenetic techniques. It may be that the distal region of chromosome 2q harbors a gene or genes that may predispose to autism.