Background Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a set of developmental conditions with widespread neuroanatomical abnormalities and a strong genetic basis. Although neuroimaging studies have indicated anatomical changes in grey matter (GM) morphometry, their associations with gene expression remain elusive.Methods Here, we aim to understand how gene expression correlates with neuroanatomical atypicalities in ASD. To do so, we performed a coordinate-based meta-analysis to determine the common GM variation pattern in the autistic brain. From the Allen Human Brain Atlas, we selected eight genes from the SHANK, NRXN, NLGN family and MECP2, which have been implicated with ASD, particularly in regards to altered synaptic transmission and plasticity. The gene expression maps for each gene were built. We then assessed the correlation between the gene expression maps and the GM alteration maps. Lastly, we projected the obtained clusters of GM alteration-gene correlations on top of the canonical resting state networks, in order to provide a functional characterization of the structural evidence.Results We found that gene expression of most genes correlated with GM alteration (both increase and decrease) in regions located in the default mode network. Decreased GM was also correlated with gene expression of some ASD genes in areas associated with the dorsal attention and cerebellar network. Lastly, single genes were found to be significantly correlated with increased GM in areas located in the somatomotor, limbic and ganglia/thalamus networks.Conclusions This approach allowed us to combine the well beaten path of genetic and brain imaging in a novel way, to specifically investigate the relation between gene expression and brain with structural damage, and individuate genes of potential interest for further investigation in the functional domain.

Linking neuroanatomical abnormalities in autism spectrum disorder with gene expression of candidate ASD genes: A meta-analytic and network-oriented approach

Camasio, Alessia;Mancuso, Lorenzo;Costa, Tommaso
;
Manuello, Jordi;Ferraro, Mario;Duca, Sergio;Cauda, Franco;Liloia, Donato
2022-01-01

Abstract

Background Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a set of developmental conditions with widespread neuroanatomical abnormalities and a strong genetic basis. Although neuroimaging studies have indicated anatomical changes in grey matter (GM) morphometry, their associations with gene expression remain elusive.Methods Here, we aim to understand how gene expression correlates with neuroanatomical atypicalities in ASD. To do so, we performed a coordinate-based meta-analysis to determine the common GM variation pattern in the autistic brain. From the Allen Human Brain Atlas, we selected eight genes from the SHANK, NRXN, NLGN family and MECP2, which have been implicated with ASD, particularly in regards to altered synaptic transmission and plasticity. The gene expression maps for each gene were built. We then assessed the correlation between the gene expression maps and the GM alteration maps. Lastly, we projected the obtained clusters of GM alteration-gene correlations on top of the canonical resting state networks, in order to provide a functional characterization of the structural evidence.Results We found that gene expression of most genes correlated with GM alteration (both increase and decrease) in regions located in the default mode network. Decreased GM was also correlated with gene expression of some ASD genes in areas associated with the dorsal attention and cerebellar network. Lastly, single genes were found to be significantly correlated with increased GM in areas located in the somatomotor, limbic and ganglia/thalamus networks.Conclusions This approach allowed us to combine the well beaten path of genetic and brain imaging in a novel way, to specifically investigate the relation between gene expression and brain with structural damage, and individuate genes of potential interest for further investigation in the functional domain.
2022
17
11: e0277466
1
20
https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0277466
Camasio, Alessia; Panzeri, Elisa; Mancuso, Lorenzo; Costa, Tommaso; Manuello, Jordi; Ferraro, Mario; Duca, Sergio; Cauda, Franco; Liloia, Donato
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2318/1902096
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