Mice continue to be in the spotlight for scientific research. Autism researchers used mice, yet again, as test subjects to isolate mutations found in the base of autism diagnosis.
Researchers recently ran studies to sequence whole genomes found in the neurons of mice they created through stem cells. With this data, the researchers were able to conclude that each cell held approximately 100 somatic mutations. Subsets of these mutations are known to result in autism.
These mutations have been difficult to track down in the past due to the rapid division of cells. In this study, the researchers had to focus on enzymes developing extra DNA copies, but this could cause errors and lead to incorrect conclusions. There is also no way of verifying the authenticity of the mutations due to no genome being available for comparison.
The study focused on a new strategy surrounding the natural processes of the body, and the power it has to duplicate its own DNA. Nuclei was removed from isolated olfactory neurons from the brains of the test mice, and then injected into the cells of a female’s eggs. This allows the DNA to get rid of its original properties and transform to reflect the surrounding cells.
Seven neurons from the egg cell DNA were taken from 4 mice, resulting in stem cell lines that had the original DNA neurons. Ten of the 100 mutations found were interrupting normal genes.The researchers hope to continue the study in order to see how each mouse brain is affected by specific mutations.
Kristin Baldwin, the associate professor of molecular and cellular neuroscience at the Scripps Research Institute, stays optimistic about the future by saying the cells could be their best shot to see the severe mutations in cases of ASD.
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