Image_1_Cell Type-Specific Gene Network-Based Analysis Depicts the Heterogeneity of Autism Spectrum Disorder.TIFF
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex neuropsychiatric disorder characterized by substantial heterogeneity. To identify the convergence of disease pathology on common pathways, it is essential to understand the correlations among ASD candidate genes and study shared molecular pathways between them. Investigating functional interactions between ASD candidate genes in different cell types of normal human brains may shed new light on the genetic heterogeneity of ASD. Here we apply cell type-specific gene network-based analysis to analyze human brain nucleus gene expression data and identify cell type-specific ASD-associated gene modules. ASD-associated modules specific to different cell types are relevant to different gene functions, for instance, the astrocytes-specific module is involved in functions of axon and neuron projection guidance, GABAergic interneuron-specific modules are involved in functions of postsynaptic membrane, extracellular matrix structural constituent, and ion transmembrane transporter activity. Our findings can promote the study of cell type heterogeneity of ASD, providing new insights into the pathogenesis of ASD. Our method has been shown to be effective in discovering cell type-specific disease-associated gene expression patterns and can be applied to other complex diseases.