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Genes

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

April 2021
Macaques on dead trees on Cayo Santiago.
Opinion / Q&A

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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Micrograph comparing locus coeruleus of 16p11.2 mutant mice and control mice show less active noradrenergic neurons in mutant mice.
News

Circuit flaw underlies motor learning issues in autism mouse model

by  /  12 April 2021

Mice missing a copy of chromosomal region 16p11.2 are slow to learn motor tasks and have dysfunction in a brain circuit associated with stress and movement, according to a new study. Normalizing this circuit’s activity corrects the learning deficit.

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Twin sisters spending their time using laptop and smart phone at home
News

Genes drive autistic people’s reactivity to environmental cues

by  /  2 April 2021

Genes influence how autistic people react to sights, sounds and other sensory cues, whereas environmental factors shape their tendency to notice and seek out such stimuli, a new study in twins suggests.

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March 2021
Genetic sequencing on computer screen in lab setting.
News / Toolbox

Online library details traits linked to genetic conditions

by  /  31 March 2021

An expanding collection of websites compiles up-to-date information on the characteristics of people with mutations in genes linked to autism and other conditions.

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Scanning elecgron micrograph of Faecal bacteria.
News

Gut microbes shape social behavior in autism mouse model

by  /  26 March 2021

Treating mice missing the autism-linked gene CNTNAP2 with a strain of gut bacteria makes them more social but no less hyperactive.

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News

Top autism-linked gene has divergent effects on brain growth in mice

by  /  25 March 2021

Mutations in CHD8 lead to brain overgrowth or undergrowth in mice, depending on how they affect the gene’s expression.

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Brain made of DNA strands on a background of molecule shapes
Opinion / Viewpoint

There are no autism-specific genes, just brain genes

by ,  /  23 March 2021

There is not yet a single example of a gene that, when mutated, increases the likelihood of autism but not of other neurodevelopmental conditions, including intellectual disability.

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News

Innate stress response may link maternal infection to autism

by  /  19 March 2021

A typically protective stress response could help to explain the connection between maternal illness and neurodevelopmental conditions.

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Oligodendrocyte shown orange on black in this scanning electron micrograph.
News

How oligodendrocytes may shape autism

by  /  15 March 2021

A growing body of evidence shows that brain cells called oligodendrocytes may play a larger role in autism than previously thought.

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mouse brain neurons highlighted pink and green.
News / Toolbox

New technique tunes in to molecular chatter in neurons

by  /  11 March 2021

Researchers have devised a way to use fluorescent sensors to detect many different signaling molecules in a cell at once.

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