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Evidence for sex-specific risk alleles in autism spectrum disorder

  • Author(s): Stone, Jennifer L
  • Merriman, Barry
  • Cantor, Rita M
  • Yonan, Amanda L
  • Gilliam, T Conrad
  • Geschwind, Daniel H
  • Nelson, Stanley F
  • et al.

We investigated the genetic aspects of the large sex bias in the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder by monitoring changes in linkage when the family set for an affected sibling pair genome scan is subdivided on the basis of the sex of affected children. This produces a significant excess in the total number of linkage peaks (P = 1.3 x 10(-8)) and identifies a major male-specific linkage peak at chromosome 17q11 (P < .01). These results suggest that sexual dichotomy is an important factor in the genetics of autism; the same strategy can be used to explore this possibility in other complex disorders that exhibit significant sex biases.

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