A Novel Stratification Method in Linkage Studies to Address Inter- and Intra-Family Heterogeneity in Autism

Zohreh Talebizadeh, Dan E. Arking, Valerie W. Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Most genome linkage scans for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) have failed to be replicated. Recently, a new ASD phenotypic sub-classification method was developed which employed cluster analyses of severity scores from the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R). Here, we performed linkage analysis for each of the four identified ADI-R stratified subgroups. Additional stratification was also applied to reduce intra-family heterogeneity and to investigate the impact of gender. For the purpose of replication, two independent sets of single nucleotide polymorphism markers for 392 families were used in our study. This deep subject stratification protocol resulted in 16 distinct group-specific datasets for linkage analysis. No locus reached significance for the combined non-stratified cohort. However, study-wide significant (P = 0.02) linkage scores were reached for chromosomes 22q11 (LOD = 4.43) and 13q21 (LOD = 4.37) for two subsets representing the most severely language impaired individuals with ASD. Notably, 13q21 has been previously linked to autism with language impairment, and 22q11 has been separately associated with either autism or language disorders. Linkage analysis on chromosome 5p15 for a combination of two stratified female-containing subgroups demonstrated suggestive linkage (LOD = 3.5), which replicates previous linkage result for female-containing pedigrees. A trend was also found for the association of previously reported 5p14-p15 SNPs in the same female-containing cohort. This study demonstrates a novel and effective method to address the heterogeneity in genetic studies of ASD. Moreover, the linkage results for the stratified subgroups provide evidence at the gene scan level for both inter- and intra-family heterogeneity as well as for gender-specific loci.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere67569
JournalPloS one
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 26 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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