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Objective: Deleterious copy number variants (CNVs) are identified in up to 20% of individuals with autism. However, only 13 genomic loci have been formally associated with autism because the majority of CNVs are too rare to perform individual association studies. To investigate the implication of undocumented CNVs in neurodevelopmental disorders, we recently developed a new framework to estimate their effect-size on intelligence quotient (IQ) and sought to extend this approach to autism susceptibility and multiple cognitive domains. Methods: We identified CNVs in two autism samples (Simons Simplex Collection and MSSNG) and two unselected populations (IMAGEN and Saguenay Youth Study). Statistical models integrating scores of genes encompassed in CNVs were used to explain their effect on autism susceptibility and multiple cognitive domains. Results: Among 9 scores of genes, the "probability-of-being loss-of-function intolerant" (pLI) best explains the effect of CNVs on IQ and autism risk. Deletions decrease IQ by a mean of 2.6 points per point of pLI. The effect of duplications on IQ is three-fold smaller. The odd ratios for autism increases when deleting or duplicating any point of pLI. This increased autism risk is similar in subgroups of individuals below or above median IQ. Once CNV effects on IQ are accounted for, autism susceptibility remains mostly unchanged for duplications but decreases for deletions. Model estimates for autism risk overlap with previously published observations. Deletions and duplications differentially affect social communication, behaviour, and phonological memory, whereas both equally affect motor skills. Conclusions: Autism risk conferred by duplications is less influenced by IQ compared to deletions. CNVs increase autism risk similarly in individuals with high and low IQ. Our model, trained on CNVs encompassing >4,500 genes, suggests highly polygenic properties of gene dosage with respect to autism risk. These models will help interpreting CNVs identified in the clinic.

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