Evaluation of results from genome-wide studies of language and reading in a novel independent dataset

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Recent genome-wide association scans (GWAS) for reading and language abilities have pin-pointed promising new candidate loci. However, the potential contributions of these loci remain to be validated. In this study, we tested 17 of the most significantly associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from these GWAS studies (P < 10−6 in the original studies) in a new independent population dataset from the Netherlands: known as Familial Influences on Literacy Abilities. This dataset comprised 483 children from 307 nuclear families and 505 adults (including parents of participating children), and provided adequate statistical power to detect the effects that were previously reported. The following measures of reading and language performance were collected: word reading fluency, nonword reading fluency, phonological awareness and rapid automatized naming. Two SNPs (rs12636438 and rs7187223) were associated with performance in multivariate and univariate testing, but these did not remain significant after correction for multiple testing. Another SNP (rs482700) was only nominally associated in the multivariate test. For the rest of the SNPs, we did not find supportive evidence of association. The findings may reflect differences between our study and the previous investigations with respect to the language of testing, the exact tests used and the recruitment criteria. Alternatively, most of the prior reported associations may have been false positives. A larger scale GWAS meta-analysis than those previously performed will likely be required to obtain robust insights into the genomic architecture underlying reading and language.

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