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Annu Rev Genomics Hum Genet. 2013;14:191-213. doi: 10.1146/annurev-genom-091212-153431. Epub 2013 Jul 22.

The genetic landscapes of autism spectrum disorders.

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Human Genetics and Cognitive Functions Unit, Institut Pasteur, 75015 Paris, France; email:


The autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are characterized by impairments in social interaction and stereotyped behaviors. For the majority of individuals with ASD, the causes of the disorder remain unknown; however, in up to 25% of cases, a genetic cause can be identified. Chromosomal rearrangements as well as rare and de novo copy-number variants are present in ∼10-20% of individuals with ASD, compared with 1-2% in the general population and/or unaffected siblings. Rare and de novo coding-sequence mutations affecting neuronal genes have also been identified in ∼5-10% of individuals with ASD. Common variants such as single-nucleotide polymorphisms seem to contribute to ASD susceptibility, but, taken individually, their effects appear to be small. Despite a heterogeneous genetic landscape, the genes implicated thus far-which are involved in chromatin remodeling, metabolism, mRNA translation, and synaptic function-seem to converge in common pathways affecting neuronal and synaptic homeostasis. Animal models developed to study these genes should lead to a better understanding of the diversity of the genetic landscapes of ASD.

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