I am doing research on inherited risk of Autism Spectrum Disorders(ASD) due to common Copy Number Variants(CNVs) One of the mutations is the 'CC' variant of Rs1858830 in the promoter region of the MET gene. (http://www.snpedia.com/index.php/Rs1858830)
After digging a bit deeper I found that hepatocyte growth factor is a pretty ubiquitous compound in the body and it's necessary for growth/repair of many tissues, namely the liver and digestive tract. I am trying to separate the direct causal effect of the mutation itself from the effects it has on other tissue which may themselves have an effect on ASD risk.
My question comes from a study which measured reduced serum HGF levels in autistic children with this mutation. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3694825/)
I am confused about the implied causal effect of the 'CC' variant on HGF levels even though it is merely the ligand for the MET gene? Please help me understand where in the gene signalling process does HGF come in, what does it do, what proteins are transcribed by the MET gene, and how this mutation effects the transcription of these proteins.