The Number of Genomic Copies at the 16p11.2 Locus Modulates Language, Verbal Memory, and Inhibition
BACKGROUND: Deletions and duplications of the 16p11.2 BP4-BP5 locus are prevalent copy number variations (CNVs), highly associated with autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia. Beyond language and global cognition, neuropsychological assessments of these two CNVs have not yet been reported. METHODS: This study investigates the relationship between the number of genomic copies at the 16p11.2 locus and cognitive domains assessed in 62 deletion carriers, 44 duplication carriers, and 71 intrafamilial control subjects. RESULTS: IQ is decreased in deletion and duplication carriers, but we demonstrate contrasting cognitive profiles in these reciprocal CNVs. Deletion carriers present with severe impairments of phonology and of inhibition skills beyond what is expected for their IQ level. In contrast, for verbal memory and phonology, the data may suggest that duplication carriers outperform intrafamilial control subjects with the same IQ level. This finding is reminiscent of special isolated skills as well as contrasting language performance observed in autism spectrum disorder. Some domains, such as visuospatial and working memory, are unaffected by the 16p11.2 locus beyond the effect of decreased IQ. Neuroimaging analyses reveal that measures of inhibition covary with neuroanatomic structures previously identified as sensitive to 16p11.2 CNVs. CONCLUSIONS: The simultaneous study of reciprocal CNVs suggests that the 16p11.2 genomic locus modulates specific cognitive skills according to the number of genomic copies. Further research is warranted to replicate these findings and elucidate the molecular mechanisms modulating these cognitive performances.