Whole-genome sequencing identifies functional noncoding variation in SEMA3C that cosegregates with dyslexia in a multigenerational family

Amaia Carrion-Castillo, Sara B. Estruch, Ben Maassen, Barbara Franke, Clyde Francks, Simon E Fisher*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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    Dyslexia is a common heritable developmental disorder involving impaired reading abilities. Its genetic underpinnings are thought to be complex and heterogeneous, involving common and rare genetic variation. Multigenerational families segregating apparent monogenic forms of language-related disorders can provide useful entrypoints into biological pathways. In the present study, we performed a genome-wide linkage scan in a three-generational family in which dyslexia affects 14 of its 30 members and seems to be transmitted with an autosomal dominant pattern of inheritance. We identified a locus on chromosome 7q21.11 which cosegregated with dyslexia status, with the exception of two cases of phenocopy (LOD = 2.83). Whole-genome sequencing of key individuals enabled the assessment of coding and noncoding variation in the family. Two rare single-nucleotide variants (rs144517871 and rs143835534) within the first intron of the SEMA3C gene cosegregated with the 7q21.11 risk haplotype. In silico characterization of these two variants predicted effects on gene regulation, which we functionally validated for rs144517871 in human cell lines using luciferase reporter assays. SEMA3C encodes a secreted protein that acts as a guidance cue in several processes, including cortical neuronal migration and cellular polarization. We hypothesize that these intronic variants could have a cis-regulatory effect on SEMA3C expression, making a contribution to dyslexia susceptibility in this family.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1183-1200
    Number of pages18
    Issue number8
    Early online date2-Jun-2021
    Publication statusPublished - Aug-2021


    • Base Sequence
    • Cell Movement
    • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 7
    • Dyslexia/diagnostic imaging
    • Family
    • Female
    • Gene Expression
    • Genes, Dominant
    • Genetic Linkage
    • Genetic Loci
    • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
    • Genome-Wide Association Study
    • Haplotypes
    • Humans
    • Inheritance Patterns
    • Introns
    • Lod Score
    • Male
    • Neuroimaging
    • Neurons/metabolism
    • Pedigree
    • Phenotype
    • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
    • Semaphorins/deficiency
    • Whole Genome Sequencing

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