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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.

May 2021
Mouse gut cells in blue, purple and pink

Loss of top autism-linked gene from gut alters behavior in mice

by  /  4 May 2021

Deleting CHD8 from the intestines induces gastrointestinal and behavioral changes in mice that resemble traits in people with mutations in the gene.

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brainstem of rats in red, green and blue highlight higher levels of GABA.

GABA agonist rescues auditory hypersensitivity in rats missing autism-linked gene CNTNAP2

by  /  3 May 2021

The investigational drug arbaclofen may right an imbalance between inhibitory and excitatory signaling in the animals’ brains.

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young woman sitting on steps alone, looking anxious.

Anxiety, self-harm elevated in people with DDX3X syndrome

by  /  3 May 2021

Girls and women with mutations in the autism-linked gene DDX3X may be particularly vulnerable to anxiety and self-harm.

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April 2021
Two views of mouse brain slices colorized in green and red.

Jump-starting growth signaling reverses microcephaly in autism mouse model

by  /  29 April 2021

A genetic therapy and an existing drug both restore typical brain size in mice missing DYRK1A, a top autism candidate gene, in the cerebral cortex, a new study shows. The animals typically have smaller brains than controls.

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Colorful RNA in mouse brain slice

Tissue-swelling method divulges RNA locations, sequences in cells

by  /  28 April 2021

A technique that expands tissue before spotting and sequencing RNA — the molecular messenger for DNA — enables researchers to see where particular genes are expressed in cells.

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Loss of CHD8 from cerebellum disrupts movements, not social behaviors

by  /  26 April 2021

Deleting the autism-linked gene CHD8 from specific cells in the cerebellum, a brain region important for movement, leads to motor deficits but does not alter social behaviors in mice.

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single celled zygote seen as a colorful cluster of dots, next to a four cell embryo, visualized in the same way.

Intact-cell sequencing lays bare new view of genome structure

by  /  22 April 2021

The technique enables researchers to sequence the DNA of an intact cell, providing a unique view of the genome’s organization inside the nucleus.

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Mouse brains carrying CUL3 gene mutation reveal unusually thin cortical tissue.

Neuron ‘skeleton’ may explain impact of autism-linked gene mutation

by  /  16 April 2021

Mutations in CUL3, a gene strongly linked to autism, may cause differences in brain structure by disrupting cytoskeleton proteins, according to a new study.

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A group of six images of fruit fly brains show networks in green and pink.

Poor sleep could be core feature of autism, related conditions

by  /  15 April 2021

Fruit flies with low expression of a gene linked to neurodevelopment have disrupted sleep, poor memory and altered social behavior.

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Macaques on dead trees on Cayo Santiago.

Friends of friends: How monkey island’s residents bonded after Hurricane Maria

by  /  13 April 2021

On 20 September 2017, Hurricane Maria passed over Puerto Rico’s Cayo Santiago Island, home to more than 1,500 non-native rhesus macaques. After the storm, the monkeys formed new, unexpected relationships in ways that could offer clues about autism.

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