Skip to main content

Spectrum: Autism Research News

Community Newsletter: Chemical exposure effects, novel variants and preprint server improvements

by  /  27 February 2022
Many mouths making conversation, with speech bubbles in red and blue.
Illustration by Laurène Boglio

Social media in the autism space this week served up a helpful cheat sheet of standout research tweets to catch up on — plus an easier way to consume preprints.

“Mixtures matter,” tweeted Giuseppe Testa, professor of molecular biology at Università Statale in Milan, Italy, about the effects of endocrine disruption during pregnancy on a child’s language development. The findings from his lab — summed up in a video as part of his thread “show the impact of real-life chemical exposure,” he wrote.

Sven-Eric Jordt, associate professor of anesthesiology at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, called the work groundbreaking.

Fernanda Pinheiro, research group leader at the Human Technopole research institute in Milan, flagged the paper as “phenomenal work” and worthy of a “weekend read alert” — and called out an accompanying Science Perspectives piece.


Maria Chahrour, assistant professor of genetics and neuroscience at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, shared a new paper in which she and her colleagues identified novel coding and noncoding candidate genetic variants for autism among a cohort of consanguineous families.

The “great study” shows “the powers of shared ancestry” for studying autism, tweeted Christopher Walsh, Bullard Professor of Pediatrics and Neurology at Harvard Medical School.


Debra Silver, associate professor of molecular genetics and microbiology at Duke, shared a thread on a new preprint that shows how the autism-linked gene DDX3X controls cortical development, with different effects in male and female mice. The findings offer insight into DDX3X syndrome in people, Silver wrote.

And speaking of preprints, Twitter was all aflutter on Wednesday feting the addition of in-line figures for all on the preprint server bioRxiv.

“Endless twitter wars” have been waged over the lack of consensus on how best to format author PDFs, wrote Richard Sever, assistant director at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press and a cofounder of bioRxiv and its sister server, medRxiv. “But clearly many readers want figs in-line.”

Now they can “print (or save as PDF) all articles with in-line figures, regardless of how the authors originally formatted them,” he wrote.

Others rejoiced over the “glow up,” hailing “in-line figures forever” and an end to “violently scrolling down to the pictures” in a series of quote tweets.

“Great. Now let’s never talk about this again,” wrote Andrew Pruszynski, associate professor of physiology and pharmacology and psychology at Western University in London, Ontario, Canada.

That’s it for this week’s Community Newsletter! If you have any suggestions for interesting social posts you saw in the autism research sphere, feel free to send an email to [email protected].

Cite this article: