Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by impairments in reciprocal social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behaviors. Family studies indicate a significant genetic basis for ASD susceptibility, and genomic scanning is beginning to elucidate the underlying genetic architecture. Some 5-15% of individuals with ASD have an identifiable genetic etiology corresponding to known chromosomal rearrangements or single gene disorders. Rare (<1% frequency) de novo or inherited copy number variations (CNVs) (especially those that affect genes with synaptic function) are observed in 5-10% of idiopathic ASD cases. These findings, coupled with genome sequencing data suggest the existence of hundreds of ASD risk genes. Common variants, yet unidentified, exert only small effects on risk. Identification of ASD risk genes with high penetrance will broaden the targets amenable to genetic testing; while the biological pathways revealed by the deeper list of ASD genes should narrow the targets for therapeutic intervention.
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