Contribution of rare damaging variants in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Viggiano, Marta (2022) Contribution of rare damaging variants in Autism Spectrum Disorder, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Biologia cellulare e molecolare, 34 Ciclo.
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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a heterogeneous and highly heritable neurodevelopmental disorder with a complex genetic architecture, consisting of a combination of common low-risk and more penetrant rare variants. This PhD project aimed to explore the contribution of rare variants in ASD susceptibility through NGS approaches in a cohort of 106 ASD families including 125 ASD individuals. Firstly, I explored the contribution of inherited rare variants towards the ASD phenotype in a girl with a maternally inherited pathogenic NRXN1 deletion. Whole exome sequencing of the trio family identified an increased burden of deleterious variants in the proband that could modulate the CNV penetrance and determine the disease development. In the second part of the project, I investigated the role of rare variants emerging from whole genome sequencing in ASD aetiology. To properly manage and analyse sequencing data, a robust and efficient variant filtering and prioritization pipeline was developed, and by its application a stringent set of rare recessive-acting and ultra-rare variants was obtained. As a first follow-up, I performed a preliminary analysis on de novo variants, identifying the most likely deleterious variants and highlighting candidate genes for further analyses. In the third part of the project, considering the well-established involvement of calcium signalling in the molecular bases of ASD, I investigated the role of rare variants in voltage-gated calcium channels genes, that mainly regulate intracellular calcium concentration, and whose alterations have been correlated with enhanced ASD risk. Specifically, I functionally tested the effect of rare damaging variants identified in CACNA1H, showing that CACNA1H variation may be involved in ASD development by additively combining with other high risk variants. This project highlights the challenges in the analysis and interpretation of variants from NGS analysis in ASD, and underlines the importance of a comprehensive assessment of the genomic landscape of ASD individuals.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Viggiano, Marta
Dottorato di ricerca
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
ASD, autism spectrum disorder, autism, NGS, rare variants, de novo variants, NRXN1, CNV, CACNA1H, VGCCs, Cav3.2, whole genome sequencing, WGS, whole exome sequencing, WES
Data di discussione
20 Giugno 2022

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