Mapping 22q11.2 gene dosage effects on brain morphometry

Amy Lin, Christopher R.K. Ching, Ariana Vajdi, Daqiang Sun, Rachel K. Jonas, Maria Jalbrzikowski, Leila Kushan-Wells, Laura Pacheco Hansen, Emma Krikorian, Boris Gutman, Deepika Dokoru, Gerhard Helleman, Paul M. Thompson, Carrie E. Bearden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Reciprocal chromosomal rearrangements at the 22q11.2 locus are associated with elevated risk of neurodevelopmental disorders. The 22q11.2 deletion confers the highest known genetic risk for schizophrenia, but a duplication in the same region is strongly associated with autism and is less common in schizophrenia cases than in the general population. Here we conducted the first study of 22q11.2 gene dosage effects on brain structure in a sample of 143 human subjects: 66 with 22q11.2 deletions (22q-del; 32 males), 21 with 22q11.2 duplications (22q-dup; 14 males), and 56 age- and sex-matched controls (31 males). 22q11.2 gene dosage varied positively with intracranial volume, gray and white matter volume, and cortical surface area (deletion < control < duplication). In contrast, gene dosage varied negatively with mean cortical thickness (deletion > control > duplication). Widespread differences were observed for cortical surface area with more localized effects on cortical thickness. These diametric patterns extended into subcortical regions: 22q-dup carriers had a significantly larger right hippocampus, on average, but lower right caudate and corpus callosum volume, relative to 22q-del carriers. Novel subcortical shape analysis revealed greater radial distance (thickness) of the right amygdala and left thalamus, and localized increases and decreases in subregions of the caudate, putamen, and hippocampus in 22q-dup relative to 22q-del carriers. This study provides the first evidence that 22q11.2 is a genomic region associated with gene-dose-dependent brain phenotypes. Pervasive effects on cortical surface area imply that this copy number variant affects brain structure early in the course of development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6183-6199
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number26
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Chromosome 22
  • Copy number variant
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Psychosis
  • Structural neuroimaging


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