Autistic disorder is a complex genetic disease. Because of previous reports of individuals with autistic disorder with duplications of the Prader-Willi/Angelman syndrome critical region, we screened several markers across the 15q11-13 region, for linkage disequilibrium. One hundred forty families, consisting predominantly of a child with autistic disorder and both parents, were studied. Genotyping was performed by use of multiplex PCR and capillary electrophoresis. Two children were identified who had interstitial chromosome 15 duplications and were excluded from further linkage-disequilibrium analysis. Use of the multiallelic transmission-disequilibrium test (MTDT), for nine loci on 15q11-13, revealed linkage disequilibrium between autistic disorder and a marker in the gamma-aminobutyric acidA receptor subunit gene, GABRB3 155CA-2 (MTDT 28.63, 10 df, P=.0014). No evidence was found for parent-of-origin effects on allelic transmission. The convergence of GABRB3 as a positional and functional candidate along with the linkage-disequilibrium data suggests the need for further investigation of the role of GABRB3 or adjacent genes in autistic disorder.
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