A University of California, Los Angeles-led team of researchers has linked 16 additional genes to the risk of developing autism, HealthDay News reports. In all, the team tied 69 genes to autism risk, it says.
Last month, an international team of researchers found through a large analysis of 2 million children that about 80 percent of autism risk is due to inherited genetic factors, as it reported in JAMA Psychiatry.
In this new study, which appears in Cell, the UCLA-led team sequenced the genomes of 2,308 individuals from families with multiple children with autism. Through this, they linked alterations in 69 genes to the risk of developing the condition, including in 16 genes that had not previously been implicated in autism. These newly identified genes are part of protein-protein interaction network that also contains previously identified risk genes, and co-senior author Dennis Wall from Stanford University says in a statement that alterations in genes in this network appear to interact with one another to increase risk.
"They associate with each other more tightly than we'd expect by chance," he adds. "These genes are talking to each other, and those interactions appear to be an important link to autism spectrum disorder."