Genomic selection signatures in autism spectrum disorder identifies cognitive genomic tradeoff and its relevance in paradoxical phenotypes of deficits versus potentialities.

Scientific Reports  13 May 2021 |  

Anil Prakash & Moinak Banerjee


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a heterogeneous neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by paradoxical phenotypes of deficits as well as gain in brain function. To address this a genomic tradeoff hypothesis was tested and followed up with the biological interaction and evolutionary significance of positively selected ASD risk genes. SFARI database was used to retrieve the ASD risk genes while for population datasets 1000 genome data was used. Common risk SNPs were subjected to machine learning as well as independent tests for selection, followed by Bayesian analysis to identify the cumulative effect of selection on risk SNPs. Functional implication of these positively selected risk SNPs was assessed and subjected to ontology analysis, pertaining to their interaction and enrichment of biological and cellular functions. This was followed by comparative analysis with the ancient genomes to identify their evolutionary patterns. Our results identified significant positive selection signals in 18 ASD risk SNPs. Functional and ontology analysis indicate the role of biological and cellular processes associated with various brain functions. The core of the biological interaction network constitutes genes for cognition and learning while genes in the periphery of the network had direct or indirect impact on brain function. Ancient genome analysis identified de novo and conserved evolutionary selection clusters. The de-novo evolutionary cluster represented genes involved in cognitive function. Relative enrichment of the ASD risk SNPs from the respective evolutionary cluster or biological interaction networks may help in addressing the phenotypic diversity in ASD. This cognitive genomic tradeoff signatures impacting the biological networks can explain the paradoxical phenotypes in ASD.


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