DUF1220 copy number is linearly associated with increased cognitive function as measured by total IQ and mathematical aptitude scores.
ABSTRACT: DUF1220 protein domains exhibit the greatest human lineage-specific copy number expansion of any protein-coding sequence in the genome, and variation in DUF1220 copy number has been linked to both brain size in humans and brain evolution among primates. Given these findings, we examined associations between DUF1220 subtypes CON1 and CON2 and cognitive aptitude. We identified a linear association between CON2 copy number and cognitive function in two independent populations of European descent. In North American males, an increase in CON2 copy number corresponded with an increase in WISC IQ (R (2) = 0.13, p = 0.02), which may be driven by males aged 6-11 (R (2) = 0.42, p = 0.003). We utilized ddPCR in a subset as a confirmatory measurement. This group had 26-33 copies of CON2 with a mean of 29, and each copy increase of CON2 was associated with a 3.3-point increase in WISC IQ (R (2) = 0.22, p = 0.045). In individuals from New Zealand, an increase in CON2 copy number was associated with an increase in math aptitude ability (R (2) = 0.10 p = 0.018). These were not confounded by brain size. To our knowledge, this is the first study to report a replicated association between copy number of a gene coding sequence and cognitive aptitude. Remarkably, dosage variations involving DUF1220 sequences have now been linked to human brain expansion, autism severity and cognitive aptitude, suggesting that such processes may be genetically and mechanistically inter-related. The findings presented here warrant expanded investigations in larger, well-characterized cohorts.
Project description:DUF1220 domains show the largest human-lineage-specific increase in copy number of any protein-coding region in the human genome and map primarily to 1q21, where deletions and reciprocal duplications have been associated with microcephaly and macrocephaly, respectively. Given these findings and the high correlation between DUF1220 copy number and brain size across primate lineages (R(2) = 0.98; p = 1.8 × 10(-6)), DUF1220 sequences represent plausible candidates for underlying 1q21-associated brain-size pathologies. To investigate this possibility, we used specialized bioinformatics tools developed for scoring highly duplicated DUF1220 sequences to implement targeted 1q21 array comparative genomic hybridization on individuals (n = 42) with 1q21-associated microcephaly and macrocephaly. We show that of all the 1q21 genes examined (n = 53), DUF1220 copy number shows the strongest association with brain size among individuals with 1q21-associated microcephaly, particularly with respect to the three evolutionarily conserved DUF1220 clades CON1(p = 0.0079), CON2 (p = 0.0134), and CON3 (p = 0.0116). Interestingly, all 1q21 DUF1220-encoding genes belonging to the NBPF family show significant correlations with frontal-occipital-circumference Z scores in the deletion group. In a similar survey of a nondisease population, we show that DUF1220 copy number exhibits the strongest correlation with brain gray-matter volume (CON1, p = 0.0246; and CON2, p = 0.0334). Notably, only DUF1220 sequences are consistently significant in both disease and nondisease populations. Taken together, these data strongly implicate the loss of DUF1220 copy number in the etiology of 1q21-associated microcephaly and support the view that DUF1220 domains function as general effectors of evolutionary, pathological, and normal variation in brain size.
Project description:DUF1220 protein domains found primarily in Neuroblastoma BreakPoint Family (NBPF) genes show the greatest human lineage-specific increase in copy number of any coding region in the genome. There are 302 haploid copies of DUF1220 in hg38 (~160 of which are human-specific) and the majority of these can be divided into 6 different subtypes (referred to as clades). Copy number changes of specific DUF1220 clades have been associated in a dose-dependent manner with brain size variation (both evolutionarily and within the human population), cognitive aptitude, autism severity, and schizophrenia severity. However, no published methods can directly measure copies of DUF1220 with high accuracy and no method can distinguish between domains within a clade.Here we describe a novel method for measuring copies of DUF1220 domains and the NBPF genes in which they are found from whole genome sequence data. We have characterized the effect that various sequencing and alignment parameters and strategies have on the accuracy and precision of the method and defined the parameters that lead to optimal DUF1220 copy number measurement and resolution. We show that copy number estimates obtained using our read depth approach are highly correlated with those generated by ddPCR for three representative DUF1220 clades. By simulation, we demonstrate that our method provides sufficient resolution to analyze DUF1220 copy number variation at three levels: (1) DUF1220 clade copy number within individual genes and groups of genes (gene-specific clade groups) (2) genome wide DUF1220 clade copies and (3) gene copy number for DUF1220-encoding genes.To our knowledge, this is the first method to accurately measure copies of all six DUF1220 clades and the first method to provide gene specific resolution of these clades. This allows one to discriminate among the ~300 haploid human DUF1220 copies to an extent not possible with any other method. The result is a greatly enhanced capability to analyze the role that these sequences play in human variation and disease.
Project description:Here we present the hypothesis that increasing copy number (dosage) of sequences encoding DUF1220 protein domains is a major contributor to the evolutionary increase in brain size, neuron number, and cognitive capacity that is associated with the primate order. We further propose that this relationship is restricted to the anthropoid sub-order of primates, with DUF1220 copy number markedly increasing in monkeys, further in apes, and most extremely in humans where the greatest number of copies (~272 haploid copies) is found. We show that this increase closely parallels the increase in brain size and neuron number that has occurred among anthropoid primate species. We also provide evidence linking DUF1220 copy number to brain size within the human species, both in normal populations and in individuals associated with brain size pathologies (1q21-associated microcephaly and macrocephaly). While we believe these and other findings presented here strongly suggest increase in DUF1220 copy number is a key contributor to anthropoid brain expansion, the data currently available rely largely on correlative measures that, though considerable, do not yet provide direct evidence for a causal connection. Nevertheless, we believe the evidence presented is sufficient to provide the basis for a testable model which proposes that DUF1220 protein domain dosage increase is a main contributor to the increase in brain size and neuron number found among the anthropoid primate species and that is at its most extreme in human.
Project description:We have established that human genome sequences encoding a novel protein domain, DUF1220, show a dramatically elevated copy number in the human lineage (>200 copies in humans vs. 1 in mouse/rat) and may be important to human evolutionary adaptation. Copy-number variations (CNVs) in the 1q21.1 region, where most DUF1220 sequences map, have now been implicated in numerous diseases associated with cognitive dysfunction, including autism, autism spectrum disorder, mental retardation, schizophrenia, microcephaly, and macrocephaly. We report here that these disease-related 1q21.1 CNVs either encompass or are directly flanked by DUF1220 sequences and exhibit a dosage-related correlation with human brain size. Microcephaly-producing 1q21.1 CNVs are deletions, whereas macrocephaly-producing 1q21.1 CNVs are duplications. Similarly, 1q21.1 deletions and smaller brain size are linked with schizophrenia, whereas 1q21.1 duplications and larger brain size are associated with autism. Interestingly, these two diseases are thought to be phenotypic opposites. These data suggest a model which proposes that (1) DUF1220 domain copy number may be involved in influencing human brain size and (2) the evolutionary advantage of rapidly increasing DUF1220 copy number in the human lineage has resulted in favoring retention of the high genomic instability of the 1q21.1 region, which, in turn, has precipitated a spectrum of recurrent human brain and developmental disorders.
Project description:The copy number of DUF1220, a protein domain implicated in human brain evolution, has been linearly associated with autism severity. Given the possibility that autism and schizophrenia are related disorders, the present study examined DUF1220 copy number variation in schizophrenia severity. There are notable similarities between autism symptoms and schizophrenia negative symptoms, and divergence between autism symptoms and schizophrenia positive symptoms. We therefore also examined DUF1220 copy number in schizophrenia subgroups defined by negative and positive symptom features, versus autistic individuals and controls. In the schizophrenic population (N=609), decreased DUF1220 copy number was linearly associated with increasing positive symptom severity (CON1 P=0.013, HLS1 P=0.0227), an association greatest in adult-onset schizophrenia (CON1 P=0.00155, HLS1 P=0.00361). In schizophrenic males, DUF1220 CON1 subtype copy number increase was associated with increased negative symptom severity (P=0.0327), a finding similar to that seen in autistic populations. Subgroup analyses demonstrated that schizophrenic individuals with predominantly positive symptoms exhibited reduced CON1 copy number compared with both controls (P=0.0237) and schizophrenic individuals with predominantly negative symptoms (P=0.0068). These findings support the view that (1) autism and schizophrenia exhibit both opposing and partially overlapping phenotypes and may represent a disease continuum, (2) variation in DUF1220 copy number contributes to schizophrenia disease risk and to the severity of both disorders, and (3) schizophrenia and autism may be, in part, a harmful by-product of the rapid and extreme evolutionary increase in DUF1220 copy number in the human species.
Project description:DUF1220 protein domains exhibit the most extreme human lineage-specific (HLS) copy number increase of any protein coding region in the human genome and have recently been linked to evolutionary and pathological changes in brain size (e.g., 1q21-associated microcephaly). These findings lend support to the view that DUF1220 domain dosage is a key factor in the determination of primate (and human) brain size. Here we analyze 41 animal genomes and present the most complete account to date of the evolutionary history and genome organization of DUF1220 domains and the gene family that encodes them (NBPF). Included among the novel features identified by this analysis is a DUF1220 domain precursor in nonmammalian vertebrates, a unique predicted promoter common to all mammalian NBPF genes, six distinct clades into which DUF1220 sequences can be subdivided, and a previously unknown member of the NBPF gene family (NBPF25). Most importantly, we show that the exceptional HLS increase in DUF1220 copy number (from 102 in our last common ancestor with chimp to 272 in human; an average HLS increase of ~28 copies every million years since the Homo/Pan split) was driven by intragenic domain hyperamplification. This increase primarily involved a 4.7 kb, tandemly repeated three DUF1220 domain unit we have named the HLS DUF1220 triplet, a motif that is a likely candidate to underlie key properties unique to the Homo sapiens brain. Interestingly, all copies of the HLS DUF1220 triplet lie within a human-specific pericentric inversion that also includes the 1q12 C-band, a polymorphic heterochromatin expansion that is unique to the human genome. Both cytogenetic features likely played key roles in the rapid HLS DUF1220 triplet hyperamplification, which is among the most striking genomic changes specific to the human lineage.
Project description:Genome sequences encoding DUF1220 protein domains show a burst in copy number among anthropoid species and especially humans, where they have undergone the greatest human lineage-specific copy number expansion of any protein coding sequence in the genome. While DUF1220 copy number shows a dosage-related association with brain size in both normal populations and in 1q21.1-associated microcephaly and macrocephaly, a function for these domains has not yet been described. Here we provide multiple lines of evidence supporting the view that DUF1220 domains function as drivers of neural stem cell proliferation among anthropoid species including humans. First, we show that brain MRI data from 131 individuals across 7 anthropoid species shows a strong correlation between DUF1220 copy number and multiple brain size-related measures. Using in situ hybridization analyses of human fetal brain, we also show that DUF1220 domains are expressed in the ventricular zone and primarily during human cortical neurogenesis, and are therefore expressed at the right time and place to be affecting cortical brain development. Finally, we demonstrate that in vitro expression of DUF1220 sequences in neural stem cells strongly promotes proliferation. Taken together, these data provide the strongest evidence so far reported implicating DUF1220 dosage in anthropoid and human brain expansion through mechanisms involving increasing neural stem cell proliferation.
Project description:Sequences encoding Olduvai protein domains (formerly DUF1220) show the greatest human lineage-specific increase in copy number of any coding region in the genome and have been associated, in a dosage-dependent manner, with brain size, cognitive aptitude, autism, and schizophrenia. Tandem intragenic duplications of a three-domain block, termed the Olduvai triplet, in four <i>NBPF</i> genes in the chromosomal 1q21.1-0.2 region, are primarily responsible for the striking human-specific copy number increase. Interestingly, most of the Olduvai triplets are adjacent to, and transcriptionally coregulated with, three human-specific <i>NOTCH2NL</i> genes that have been shown to promote cortical neurogenesis. Until now, the underlying genomic events that drove the Olduvai hyperamplification in humans have remained unexplained. Here, we show that the presence or absence of an alternative first exon of the Olduvai triplet perfectly discriminates between amplified (58/58) and unamplified (0/12) triplets. We provide sequence and breakpoint analyses that suggest the alternative exon was produced by an nonallelic homologous recombination-based mechanism involving the duplicative transposition of an existing Olduvai exon found in the CON3 domain, which typically occurs at the C-terminal end of <i>NBPF</i> genes. We also provide suggestive <i>in vitro</i> evidence that the alternative exon may promote instability through a putative G-quadraplex (pG4)-based mechanism. Lastly, we use single-molecule optical mapping to characterize the intragenic structural variation observed in <i>NBPF</i> genes in 154 unrelated individuals and 52 related individuals from 16 families and show that the presence of pG4-containing Olduvai triplets is strongly correlated with high levels of Olduvai copy number variation. These results suggest that the same driver of genomic instability that allowed the evolutionarily recent, rapid, and extreme human-specific Olduvai expansion remains highly active in the human genome.
Project description:Sequences encoding DUF1220 protein domains show the most extreme human lineage-specific copy number increase of any coding region in the genome and have been linked to human brain evolution. In addition, DUF1220 copy number (dosage) has been implicated in influencing brain size within the human species, both in normal populations and in individuals associated with brain size pathologies (1q21-associated microcephaly and macrocephaly). More recently, increasing dosage of a subtype of DUF1220 has been linked with increasing severity of the primary symptoms of autism. Despite these intriguing associations, a function for these domains has not been described. As a first step in addressing this question, we have developed the first transgenic model of DUF1220 function by removing the single DUF1220 domain (the ancestral form) encoded in the mouse genome. In a hypothesis generating exercise, these mice were evaluated by 197 different phenotype measurements. While resulting DUF1220-minus (KO) mice show no obvious anatomical peculiarities, they exhibit a significantly reduced fecundity (?(2) = 19.1, df = 2, p = 7.0 × 10(-5)). Further extensive phenotypic analyses suggest hyperactivity (p < 0.05) of DUF1220 mice and changes in gene expression levels of brain associated with distinct neurological functions and disease. Other changes that met statistical significance include an increase in plasma glucose concentration (as measured by area under the curve, AUC 0-30 and AUC 30-120) in male mutants, fasting glucose levels, reduce sodium levels in male mutants, increased levels of the liver functional indicator ALAT/GPT in males, levels of alkaline phosphatase (also an indicator of liver function), mean R and SR amplitude by electrocardiography, elevated IgG3 levels, a reduced ratio of CD4:CD8 cells, and a reduced frequency of T cells; though it should be noted that many of these differences are quite small and require further examination. The linking of DUF1220 loss to a hyperactive phenotype is consistent with separate findings in which DUF1220 over expression results in a down-regulation of mitochondrial function, and potentially suggests a role in developmental metabolism. Finally, the substantially reduced fecundity we observe associated with KO mice argues that the ancestral DUF1220 domain provides an important biological functionthat is critical to survivability and reproductive success.
Project description:One of the three most frequently documented copy number variations associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a 1q21.1 duplication that encompasses sequences encoding DUF1220 protein domains, the dosage of which we previously implicated in increased human brain size. Further, individuals with ASD frequently display accelerated brain growth and a larger brain size that is also associated with increased symptom severity. Given these findings, we investigated the relationship between DUF1220 copy number and ASD severity, and here show that in individuals with ASD (n = 170), the copy number (dosage) of DUF1220 subtype CON1 is highly variable, ranging from 56 to 88 copies following a Gaussian distribution. More remarkably, in individuals with ASD CON1 copy number is also linearly associated, in a dose-response manner, with increased severity of each of the three primary symptoms of ASD: social deficits (p = 0.021), communicative impairments (p = 0.030), and repetitive behaviors (p = 0.047). These data indicate that DUF1220 protein domain (CON1) dosage has an ASD-wide effect and, as such, is likely to be a key component of a major pathway underlying ASD severity. Finally, these findings, by implicating the dosage of a previously unexamined, copy number polymorphic and brain evolution-related gene coding sequence in ASD severity, provide an important new direction for further research into the genetic factors underlying ASD.