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Am J Med Genet. 2000 Apr 3;96(2):228-34.

Support for linkage of autism and specific language impairment to 7q3 from two chromosome rearrangements involving band 7q31.

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Division of Medical and Molecular Genetics, Guy's Hospital, London,


Childhood autism is characterised by impairments in communication and reciprocal social interaction together with restricted/stereotyped interests, which are evident before 3 years of age. Specific developmental disorders of speech and language (SDDSL) are characterised by impairment in the development of expressive and/or receptive language skills which is not associated with intellectual, sensory, physical, or neurological impairment. Family and twin studies indicate a substantial genetic component in the aetiology of both disorders. They also reveal increased rates of SDDSL in relatives of autistic individuals, suggesting that this phenotype can represent one manifestation of the genetic liability for autism. Modelling of the recurrence risk for autism and milder phenotypes, such as SDDSL, suggest that three or four epistatic loci may be aetiologically involved. A recently published linkage study of an exceptional family with an apparently dominantly inherited SDDSL implicated chromosome band 7q31 as the site of the putative susceptibility locus (SPCH1). This region of chromosome 7 also shows strong linkage in multiplex families with autism. We present two individuals (one has autism, the other SDDSL) with different, apparently balanced chromosome rearrangements involving a breakpoint at 7q31.3. Fluorescence in situ hybridisation was used to localise the breakpoints to an approximately 1 cM interval between CFTR and D7S643. Our findings may be of interest and relevance to the genetic aetiology of autism, and helpful in the search for susceptibility loci for SDDSL and autism. Am. J. Med. Genet. (Neuropsychiatr. Genet. ) 96:228-234, 2000.

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