A variant of neurexin 1, a gene linked to both autism and schizophrenia, is associated with less brain matter than normal in healthy individuals, according to a study published 8 June in PLoS ONE.
Spectrum: Autism Research News
Neurexin 1, an autism-associated protein that functions at the junctions between neurons, has a flexible hinge that can toggle the protein between a more compact or a more accessible shape, a crystal structure published 8 June in Structure reveals.
Three new studies analyzing genetic data from families in which just one child has autism have found the strongest evidence yet that rare new mutations contribute to the disorder.
What’s known about the genetics of autism supports the ‘snowflake’ hypothesis — that the molecular underpinnings of disease are essentially unique from individual to individual — says human geneticist Brett Abrahams.
A new study provides the first functional link between the schizophrenia risk gene DISC1 and two candidate genes for autism. DISC1 significantly alters expression of NRXN1 and NRXN2 at key phases of development, according to a brief report in the June issue of Molecular Psychiatry.
Neuroligin-4, a protein associated with autism, is located at synapses — the junctions between neurons — that inhibit signals in the brain, according to a study published in February in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The protein can also single-handedly induce neurons derived from human stem cells to form synapses, according to another study in the same issue.
Researchers have developed a technique to detect interactions in live neurons between neuroligins and neurexins — two proteins known to bind at the junction between neurons, according to a study published 29 October in Cell.
Brain cells communicate across complex junctions called synapses, filled with proteins working to bind neurons together. Kurt Haas of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver has developed a method to watch neuron development in the growing tadpole brain.