Gene that leads to ASD development – New Finding


The researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina have identified genetic mutations that can cause autism. The researchers from the Harvard Medical School and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center have also joined this project. According to this study, a gene related to the development of such brain disorders as schizophrenia can be responsible for autism spectrum disorder. The researchers are sure that the new study findings may result in autism treatment methods.

According to the scientists, the culprit of the autism is the MEF2C gene, which is involved into muscles development. It’s highly concentrated in brain and associated with severe neurodevelopmental and intellectual disabilities.

“Like autism, schizophrenia is a neurodevelopmental disorder – something goes wrong during brain development that gives rise to the later onset of symptoms. The link between MEF2C and neurodevelopmental disorders is not surprising – it is enriched in parts of the developing brain important for cognition, social behaviors, sensory processing, motor control and language,” says Christopher Cowan, the researcher of this study.

The researchers removed the MEF2C from mice and monitored their social behavior. Mice, lacking MEF2C gene showed reduced interaction with other animals and demonstrated impaired language development, which was measured at ultrasonic frequencies with special microphones.

“What we found was really striking,” said Christopher Cowan. He added that “Without MEF2C, there’s a decrease in the connections that excite brain activity, and a big increase in connections that inhibit brain activity.”

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