According to a recent study, autism-affected siblings inherit a greater share of their genetic material from their father rather than their mother.
Researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) have recently revised commonly held genetic beliefs about autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Scientists assumed that siblings diagnosed with ASD would inherit more genetic traits from their mother than their father, but Associate Professor Ivan Iossifov and Professor Michael Wigler from the College of Physicians have discovered that in many instances the father might be the more important.
Autism spectrum disorders include a wide spectrum of neurological and developmental difficulties. They may affect how a person communicates, socializes, learns, and behaves. It may also manifest as repetitive behaviors or restricted interests, according to the United States.
"There are children diagnosed with autism who are extremely productive," Iossifov says. "They also have some minor difficulties in social interactions, as most of us do."
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory researchers and collaborators have invested millions of dollars in deciphering the genetic causes of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) — all of which have aided in changing the way people think about this common neurodevelopmental disorder. Now, they've gone even further, dispelling popular assumptions about autism and its genetic origins.
CSHL researchers have been involved in a multimillion-dollar effort to discover the genetic causes of autism. However, their research was unable to account for all instances of ASD. So Iossifov and Wigler set out to discover the missing sources.
The duo examined the genomes of over 6,000 volunteer families. They found that in families with two or more children with ASD, the siblings shared more of their father's genome. whereas, in families with only one sibling with ASD, the children shared less of their father's genome.
No one is sure how a dad's genome will affect ASD sufferers. However, Iossifov believes there are a couple of interesting possibilities: some fathers may carry protective mutations that aren't passed on, or fathers may pass down mutations that trigger the mother's immune system to attack the developing embryo.
"Our future research is stimulating," Iossifov says. "If one of these theories or two of them turns out to be true, then it opens new therapy avenues that might affect quite a lot of families in the future."
This research may provide valuable information for educators and therapists. It may enable for earlier diagnoses and an improved overall comprehension of autism.
Mathew Wroten, Seungtai Yoon, Boris Yamrom, Andreas Buja, Abba M. Krieger, Dan Levy, Kenny Ye, Michael Wigler, and Ivan Iossifov, Cell Genomics, DOI: 10.1016/j.xgen.2023.100319
The Simons Center for Quantitative Biology, the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative, the Centers for Common Disease Genomics, the National Human Genome Research Institute, and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute all funded this study.