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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.

January 2022
Normal mouse brain (left) vs brain in mouse lacking POGZ gene (right)

Top autism-linked gene boosts DNA accessibility during development

by  /  10 January 2022

Loss of the POGZ gene in mice makes certain genes inaccessible and prevents their expression.

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Cerebral cortex transcript

Alternate RNA versions of genes may shape autism

by  /  7 January 2022

Autism may involve different levels of RNA isoforms encoded by genes in the brain, which express many more proteins than previously thought.

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Series of micrographs of synapses in stressed mice with mutated SHANK3 gene showing high expression of HOMER1A protein and loss of SHANK3.

Autism-linked gene primes stress vulnerability in mice

by  /  3 January 2022

In mice with a mutated copy of SHANK3, stress induces social deficits and alters gene expression in certain excitatory neurons. But eliminating a stress-related protein that regulates SHANK3 restores typical social functioning in the animals.

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December 2021

Trends in autism research 2021

 /  23 December 2021

As 2021 comes to a close, Spectrum recaps some of the biggest trends in autism science this year: studies of sex differences, noncoding regions of the genome and points of convergence, as well as efforts to improve screening and participatory research.

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Cluster of traits tied to rare mutations in autism-linked gene

by  /  20 December 2021

Developmental delay, intellectual disability and behavioral issues are common among people who have mutations in MYT1L, a gene with strong ties to autism.

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Mouse cortex micrograph

Mutation in new autism candidate gene disrupts social brain area

by  /  16 December 2021

Mice missing a copy of the gene SENP1 have atypical social behavior likely due to a signaling imbalance in the retrosplenial cortex.

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Glial cells star in autism-linked gene expression analysis

by  /  15 December 2021

Many genes linked to autism are switched on in the brain’s glia, cells that help neurons develop and synapses form.

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Illustration of DNA helix highlighting the methylation process.

DNA methylation in autism, explained

by  /  13 December 2021

How chemical tags called methyl groups position themselves on genetic sequences may hint at some of the causes of autism.

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Nighttime crowded Shanghai street scene with illumination from electric and neon signs.

New resource tracks genetic variations in Han Chinese populations

by  /  9 December 2021

An online database called NyuWa catalogs genetic variations among nearly 3,000 individuals and provides a comprehensive reference genome for the Han people.

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Myelin loss may explain how autism-linked DNA deletion affects cognition

by  /  8 December 2021

Deleting a copy of the gene TBX1 depletes the fatty myelin insulation that surrounds neurons and reduces cognitive speed in mice.

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