Genetic Candidate Variants in Two Multigenerational Families with Childhood Apraxia of Speech

Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) is a severe and socially debilitating form of speech sound disorder with suspected genetic involvement, but the genetic etiology is not yet well understood. Very few known or putative causal genes have been identified to date, e.g., FOXP2 and BCL11A. Building a knowledge base of the genetic etiology of CAS will make it possible to identify infants at genetic risk and motivate the development of effective very early intervention programs. We investigated the genetic etiology of CAS in two large multigenerational families with familial CAS. Complementary genomic methods included Markov chain Monte Carlo linkage analysis, copy-number analysis, identity-by-descent sharing, and exome sequencing with variant filtering. No overlaps in regions with positive evidence of linkage between the two families were found. In one family, linkage analysis detected two chromosomal regions of interest, 5p15.1-p14.1, and 17p13.1-q11.1, inherited separately from the two founders. Single-point linkage analysis of selected variants identified CDH18 as a primary gene of interest and additionally, MYO10, NIPBL, GLP2R, NCOR1, FLCN, SMCR8, NEK8, and ANKRD12, possibly with additive effects. Linkage analysis in the second family detected five regions with LOD scores approaching the highest values possible in the family. A gene of interest was C4orf21(ZGRF1) on 4q25-q28.2. Evidence for previously described causal copy-number variations and validated or suspected genes was not found. Results are consistent with a heterogeneous CAS etiology, as is expected in many neurogenic disorders. Future studies will investigate genome variants in these and other families with CAS.