October 22, 2020

Genetic variation in CSMD1 affects amygdala connectivity and prosocial behavior

The amygdala is one of the most widely connected structures in the primate brain and plays a key role in social and emotional behavior. Here, we present the first genome- wide association study (GWAS) of whole-brain resting-state amygdala networks to discern whether connectivity in these networks could serve as an endophenotype for social behavior. Leveraging published resting-state amygdala networks as a priori endophenotypes in a GWAS meta-analysis of two adolescent cohorts, we identified a common polymorphism on chr.8p23.2 (rs10105357 A/G, MAF (G)=0.35) associated with stronger connectivity in the medial amygdala network (beta=0.20, p=2.97×10-8). This network contains regions that support reward processes and affiliative behavior. People carrying two copies of the minor allele for rs10105357 participate in more prosocial behaviors (t=2.644, p=0.008) and have higher CSMD1 expression in the temporal cortex (t=3.281, p=0.002) than people with one or no copy of the allele. In post-mortem brains across the lifespan, we found that CSMD1 expression is relatively high in the amygdala (2.79 fold higher than white matter, p=1.80×10-29), particularly so for nuclei in the medial amygdala, reaching a maximum in later stages of development. Amygdala network endophenotyping has the potential to accelerate genetic discovery in disorders of social function, such as autism, in which CSMD1 may serve as a diagnostic and therapeutic target.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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