The findings are published online today in Nature Genetics and also will be published in the journal’s March print edition. They are based on the largest-ever autism genome scan. Over 120 scientists from over 50 institutions who formed the Autism Genome Project (AGP) performed the research. The AGP began in 2002 when researchers from around the world decided to collaborate and share their samples, data and expertise to aid in identifying autism susceptibility genes.
Funded by Autism Speaks, a national non-profit dedicated to increasing awareness of autism and raising money to research the disorder, and the National Institutes of Health, these are the preliminary findings from the AGP’s first phase.
The consortium used "gene chip" technology to look for genetic similarities in autistic individuals culled from almost 1,200 families. They also scanned the DNA to search for copy number variations, which are submicroscopic insertions and deletions of genetic material that scientists believe may be linked to autism and other diseases. The researchers found neurexin 1, part of a family of genes that plays a role with the neurotransmitter glutamate, which has been previously linked to autism. They also found a gene on chromosome 11 that may be linked to autism susceptibility. That gene has not yet been pinpointed.
Researchers speculate that there may be five or six major genes and as many as 30 other genes involved in autism. If a child has more of these genes, there is a higher chance of being born with autism or a more severe form of the disease.
Autism is a complex brain disorder that inhibits a person’s ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by extreme behavioral challenges. Autism Spectrum Disorders are diagnosed in one in 150 children in the United States, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The diagnosis of autism has increased tenfold in the last decade.
Phase Two of the Autism Genome Project was also announced to continue the effort to discover the genes that cause the disorder. This second phase represents a $14.5 million, three-year investment by Autism Speaks, the British Medical Research Council, the Health Research Board of Ireland, Genome Canada and its partners, Canadian Institutes for Health Research, Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center, and the Hilibrand Foundation.
Karen N. Peart | EurekAlert!
Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity
22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden
The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet
22.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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