Background: Autism spectrum conditions (ASC) are a group of conditions characterized by difficulties in communication and social interaction, alongside unusually narrow interests and repetitive, stereotyped behaviour. Genetic association and expression studies have suggested an important role for the GABAergic circuits in ASC. Syntaxin 1A (STX1A) encodes a protein involved in regulation of serotonergic and GABAergic systems and its expression is altered in autism.
Methods: In this study, the association between three single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (rs4717806, rs941298 and rs6951030) in STX1A gene and Asperger syndrome (AS) were tested in 650 controls and 479 individuals with AS, all of Caucasian ancestry.
Results: rs4717806 (P = 0.00334) and rs941298 (P = 0.01741) showed a significant association with AS, replicating previous results. Both SNPs putatively alter transcription factor binding sites both directly and through other variants in high linkage disequilibrium.
Conclusions: The current study confirms the role of STX1A as an important candidate gene in ASC. The exact molecular mechanisms through which STX1A contributes to the etiology remain to be elucidated.