In the June American Journal of Medical Genetics, Thomas Wassnik and colleagues from the Universities of Iowa and North Carolina report on the identification of rare mutations in the gene WNT2 that may "significantly increase susceptibility to autism," as well as a common variant that may contribute to the disorder to a lesser degree. "While the evidence implicating this gene is good, it's not over-whelming, and must be replicated by other groups," caution the authors.

Wassink et al examined WNT2 as a candidate disease gene for autism because it is located on a region of chromosome 7, that has previously been linked to autism. In addition, animal studies in which the gene had been knocked out resulted in animals exhibiting behavioural phenotypes similar to autism in humans.

The authors screened 135 unrelated autistic individuals and compared the WNT2 sequences with those from 160 individuals who did not have autism....

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