Genome-wide variant analysis of simplex autism families with an integrative clinical-bioinformatics pipeline

Cold Spring Harb Mol Case Stud. 2015 Oct;1(1):a000422. doi: 10.1101/mcs.a000422.


Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of developmental disabilities that affect social interaction and communication and are characterized by repetitive behaviors. There is now a large body of evidence that suggests a complex role of genetics in ASDs, in which many different loci are involved. Although many current population-scale genomic studies have been demonstrably fruitful, these studies generally focus on analyzing a limited part of the genome or use a limited set of bioinformatics tools. These limitations preclude the analysis of genome-wide perturbations that may contribute to the development and severity of ASD-related phenotypes. To overcome these limitations, we have developed and utilized an integrative clinical and bioinformatics pipeline for generating a more complete and reliable set of genomic variants for downstream analyses. Our study focuses on the analysis of three simplex autism families consisting of one affected child, unaffected parents, and one unaffected sibling. All members were clinically evaluated and widely phenotyped. Genotyping arrays and whole-genome sequencing were performed on each member, and the resulting sequencing data were analyzed using a variety of available bioinformatics tools. We searched for rare variants of putative functional impact that were found to be segregating according to de novo, autosomal recessive, X-linked, mitochondrial, and compound heterozygote transmission models. The resulting candidate variants included three small heterozygous copy-number variations (CNVs), a rare heterozygous de novo nonsense mutation in MYBBP1A located within exon 1, and a novel de novo missense variant in LAMB3. Our work demonstrates how more comprehensive analyses that include rich clinical data and whole-genome sequencing data can generate reliable results for use in downstream investigations.

Keywords: autism.