Pervasive genetic interactions modulate neurodevelopmental defects of the autism-associated 16p11.2 deletion in Drosophila melanogaster.

Nat Commun. 2018 Jun 29;9(1):2548

Authors: Iyer J, Singh MD, Jensen M, Patel P, Pizzo L, Huber E, Koerselman H, Weiner AT, Lepanto P, Vadodaria K, Kubina A, Wang Q, Talbert A, Yennawar S, Badano J, Manak JR, Rolls MM, Krishnan A, Girirajan S

Abstract
As opposed to syndromic CNVs caused by single genes, extensive phenotypic heterogeneity in variably-expressive CNVs complicates disease gene discovery and functional evaluation. Here, we propose a complex interaction model for pathogenicity of the autism-associated 16p11.2 deletion, where CNV genes interact with each other in conserved pathways to modulate expression of the phenotype. Using multiple quantitative methods in Drosophila RNAi lines, we identify a range of neurodevelopmental phenotypes for knockdown of individual 16p11.2 homologs in different tissues. We test 565 pairwise knockdowns in the developing eye, and identify 24 interactions between pairs of 16p11.2 homologs and 46 interactions between 16p11.2 homologs and neurodevelopmental genes that suppress or enhance cell proliferation phenotypes compared to one-hit knockdowns. These interactions within cell proliferation pathways are also enriched in a human brain-specific network, providing translational relevance in humans. Our study indicates a role for pervasive genetic interactions within CNVs towards cellular and developmental phenotypes.

PMID: 29959322 [PubMed – in process]

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