Worms, despite their crude nervous system, can be useful models of the genetic underpinnings of autism, according to unpublished work presented today at a meeting of the Genetics Society of America in Boston.
Efforts to ease the symptoms of autism are beginning to ramp up, with promising candidates in various stages of testing.
FMRP, the protein missing in fragile X syndrome, is needed for the birth of new neurons, for regulating the translation of RNA into protein, and for maintaining the structural integrity of spiny neuronal projections, according to several new studies.
A new technique can simultaneously sequence DNA and pinpoint some of the chemical modifications that turn genes on or off, according to a report published 9 May in Nature Methods. In particular, the technique reveals methyl groups bound to DNA bases.
Some brain areas involved in speech are larger and some smaller in children with autism compared with healthy controls, according to a series of imaging studies conducted by a Boston research group.
Neuroscientists have discovered a population of cells in the smell-perception area of the rat brain that express the hormone vasopressin. The study, published in Nature, begins to unpack the complicated molecular interactions of the hormone in the brain, which could lead to new autism treatments.
Researchers are tinkering with mouse models to investigate the function of a protein that helps wire neurons together and that has repeatedly been linked to autism. Three such reports of the protein, neuroligin-1, have appeared this year.