Non-coding structural variation differentially impacts attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) gene networks in African American vs Caucasian children

Sci Rep. 2020 Sep 17;10(1):15252. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-71307-0.


Previous studies of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have suggested that structural variants (SVs) play an important role but these were mainly studied in subjects of European ancestry and focused on coding regions. In this study, we sought to address the role of SVs in non-European populations and outside of coding regions. To that end, we generated whole genome sequence (WGS) data on 875 individuals, including 205 ADHD cases and 670 non-ADHD controls. The ADHD cases included 116 African Americans (AA) and 89 of European Ancestry (EA) with SVs in comparison with 408 AA and 262 controls, respectively. Multiple SVs and target genes that associated with ADHD from previous studies were identified or replicated, and novel recurrent ADHD-associated SV loci were discovered. We identified clustering of non-coding SVs around neuroactive ligand-receptor interaction pathways, which are involved in neuronal brain function, and highly relevant to ADHD pathogenesis and regulation of gene expression related to specific ADHD phenotypes. There was little overlap (around 6%) in the genes impacted by SVs between AA and EA. These results suggest that SVs within non-coding regions may play an important role in ADHD development and that WGS could be a powerful discovery tool for studying the molecular mechanisms of ADHD.

MeSH terms

  • African Americans / genetics*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / ethnology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / genetics*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gene Regulatory Networks*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • RNA, Untranslated / genetics
  • Whole Genome Sequencing


  • RNA, Untranslated