Mutational Landscape of Autism Spectrum Disorder Brain Tissue

Genes (Basel). 2022 Jan 24;13(2):207. doi: 10.3390/genes13020207.


Rare post-zygotic mutations in the brain are now known to contribute to several neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, due to the limited availability of brain tissue, most studies rely on estimates of mosaicism from peripheral samples. In this study, we undertook whole exome sequencing on brain tissue from 26 ASD brain donors from the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center (HBTRC) and ascertained the presence of post-zygotic and germline mutations categorized as pathological, including those impacting known ASD-implicated genes. Although quantification did not reveal enrichment for post-zygotic mutations compared with the controls (n = 15), a small number of pathogenic, potentially ASD-implicated mutations were identified, notably in TRAK1 and CLSTN3. Furthermore, germline mutations were identified in the same tissue samples in several key ASD genes, including PTEN, SC1A, CDH13, and CACNA1C. The establishment of tissue resources that are available to the scientific community will facilitate the discovery of new mutations for ASD and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

Keywords: autism spectrum disorder (ASD); brain tissue; exome sequencing; germline; post-zygotic; somatic.

MeSH terms

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / genetics
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / pathology
  • Brain / pathology
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Exome Sequencing
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Mutation


  • CLSTN3 protein, human
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins