Compelling evidence in Caucasian populations suggests a role for copy-number variations (CNVs) in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and schizophrenia (SCZ). We analyzed 1,108 ASD cases, 2,458 SCZ cases, and 2,095 controls in a Japanese population and confirmed an increased burden of rare exonic CNVs in both disorders. Clinically significant (or pathogenic) CNVs, including those at 29 loci common to both disorders, were found in about 8% of ASD and SCZ cases, which was significantly higher than in controls. Phenotypic analysis revealed an association between clinically significant CNVs and intellectual disability. Gene set analysis showed significant overlap of biological pathways in both disorders including oxidative stress response, lipid metabolism/modification, and genomic integrity. Finally, based on bioinformatics analysis, we identified multiple disease-relevant genes in eight well-known ASD/SCZ-associated CNV loci (e.g., 22q11.2, 3q29). Our findings suggest an etiological overlap of ASD and SCZ and provide biological insights into these disorders. Kushima et al. perform comparative analyses of CNVs in ASD and SCZ in a Japanese population. They identify pathogenic CNVs and biological pathways in each disorder with significant overlap. Patients with pathogenic CNVs have a higher prevalence of intellectual disability. Disease-relevant genes are detected in eight well-known ASD/SCZ-associated CNV loci.
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