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Spectrum: Autism Research News

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Genes

Rare or common, inherited or spontaneous, mutations form the core of autism risk.

August 2021

Drugs boost serotonin, socialization in multiple autism mouse models

by  /  6 August 2021

The finding that MDMA and an experimental serotonin agonist increase sociability across six different model mice suggests that disparate autism-linked mutations converge on the same underlying pathways.

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Images shows a pyramidal neuron.

How mutations in top autism gene could lead to seizures

by  /  5 August 2021

Deleterious mutations in an autism-associated gene can make neurons hyperexcitable, raising the risk of epileptic seizures.

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Mutations in the noncoding genome contribute to autism

by  /  2 August 2021

Spontaneous mutations in parts of the genome that regulate gene EBF3 appear to contribute to autism risk.

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July 2021

New tool maps cell types in lab-grown blobs of brain tissue

by  /  29 July 2021

The software compares gene expression in cells derived from organoids with a reference atlas of the developing mouse brain.

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Ultra-rare variants point to new autism candidate genes

by  /  26 July 2021

A large, whole-genome sequencing study of families yields insights into ultra-rare genetic variants that contribute to autism.

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Micrographs comparing motor cortex neurons in mice with and without an extra copy of MECP2 gene.

Blocking key pathway reverses brain, behavior changes in autism mouse model

by  /  19 July 2021

Neurons in mice with an autism-linked mutation sprout extraneous protrusions, an overgrowth accompanied by above-average motor learning. Inhibiting a cell signaling pathway reverses the effect.

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Immature inhibitory cells surround mature neuron.

Critical time window flagged for autism gene’s influence

by  /  16 July 2021

A transplant of inhibitory neurons during the second week of life prevents social difficulties and a brain signaling imbalance in mice missing a copy of FOXG1.

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Four brown lab mice in a cage, top-down view, with one mouse away from the group.

Autism-linked mutation may blur brain’s boundary between self, others

by  /  15 July 2021

A mutation in the autism-linked gene SHANK3 changes how neurons encode information about social agency in mice.

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Patchwork mutations present a new frontier for autism research

by  /  12 July 2021

Mosaic mutations, which affect only some of the body’s cells, play a small but meaningful role in autism. Though they are difficult to study, researchers are working to master their complexity.

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researchers analyzing a big change in a DNA helix

Evolutionary approach reveals impact of missense variants in autism

by  /  7 July 2021

Cross-species comparisons can help make sense of subtle genetic variants in people with autism and identify hundreds of new genes that may contribute to the condition.

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