Specific language impairment (SLI) is defined as an inability to develop appropriate language skills without explanatory medical conditions, low intelligence or lack of opportunity. Previously, a genome scan of 98 families affected by SLI was completed by the SLI Consortium, resulting in the identification of two quantitative trait loci (QTL) on chromosomes 16q (SLI1) and 19q (SLI2). This was followed by a replication of both regions in an additional 86 families. Both these studies applied linkage methods to one phenotypic trait at a time. However, investigations have suggested that simultaneous analysis of several traits may offer more power. The current study therefore applied a multivariate variance-components approach to the SLI Consortium dataset using additional phenotypic data. A multivariate genome scan was completed and supported the importance of the SLI1 and SLI2 loci, whilst highlighting a possible novel QTL on chromosome 10. Further investigation implied that the effect of SLI1 on non-word repetition was equally as strong on reading and spelling phenotypes. In contrast, SLI2 appeared to have influences on a selection of expressive and receptive language phenotypes in addition to non-word repetition, but did not show linkage to literacy phenotypes
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