Behavioral phenotypes in males with XYY and possible role of increased NLGN4Y expression in autism features

Genes Brain Behav. 2015 Feb;14(2):137-44. doi: 10.1111/gbb.12200. Epub 2015 Feb 1.


The male sex chromosome disorder, 47,XYY syndrome (XYY), is associated with increased risk for social-emotional difficulties, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We hypothesize that increased Y chromosome gene copy number in XYY leads to overexpression of Y-linked genes related to brain development and function, thereby increasing risk for these phenotypes. We measured expression in blood of two Y genes NLGN4Y and RPS4Y in 26 boys with XYY and 11 male controls and evaluated whether NLGN4Y expression correlates with anxiety, ADHD, depression and autistic behaviors (from questionnaires) in boys with XYY. The XYY cohort had increased risk of ASD behaviors on the social responsiveness scale (SRS) and increased attention deficits on the Conners' DSM-IV inattention and hyperactive scales. In contrast, there was no increase in reported symptoms of anxiety or depression by the XYY group. Peripheral expression of two Y genes in boys with XYY vs. typically developing controls was increased twofold in the XYY group. Results from the SRS total and autistic mannerisms scales, but not from the attention, anxiety or depression measures, correlated with peripheral expression of NLGN4Y in boys with XYY. Males with XYY have social phenotypes that include increased risk for autism-related behaviors and ADHD. Expression of NLGN4Y, a gene that may be involved in synaptic function, is increased in boys with XYY, and the level of expression correlates with overall social responsiveness and autism symptoms. Thus, further investigation of NLGN4Y as a plausible ASD risk gene in XYY is warranted.

Keywords: NLGN4Y; Neuroligin; XYY; social function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / genetics
  • Autistic Disorder / diagnosis
  • Autistic Disorder / genetics*
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal / genetics*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / physiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Phenotype
  • Sex Chromosome Disorders / diagnosis
  • Sex Chromosome Disorders / genetics*
  • XYY Karyotype / diagnosis
  • XYY Karyotype / genetics*


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal
  • NLGN4X protein, human

Supplementary concepts

  • 47, XYY syndrome