Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

World's largest DNA scan for autism uncovers new gene variant for disorder

30.04.2009
Gene most active in brain regions critical to language, social behavior

UCLA scientists, in partnership with 30 research institutions across the country, have identified a new gene variant that is highly common in autistic children. And when researchers scrutinized the activity of the gene, known as CDH10, in the fetal brain, they discovered that it is most active in key regions that support language, speech and interpreting social behavior.

Published April 28 in the advance online edition of the journal Nature, the two findings suggest that CDH10 plays a critical role in shaping the developing brain and may contribute to a prenatal risk of autism.

A variant is a gene that has undergone subtle changes from the normal DNA yet is shared by a significant portion of the population.

"While this gene variant is common in the general population, we discovered that it occurs about 20 percent more often in children with autism," said study author Dr. Daniel Geschwind, director of the UCLA Center for Autism Treatment and Research. "A major change like this in the genetic code is too common to be a simple mutation — it is a risk factor in the origin of the disease."

Using the largest population sample to date, the scientists systematically scanned the DNA of 3,100 individuals from 780 families nationwide. Each family had at least two autistic children.

The scan connected autism to a specific region of chromosome 5, which previous studies at UCLA and collaborating institutions had pinpointed as a hub for genetic variations linked to higher autism risk.

To verify the findings, Dr. Hakon Hakonarson at the Children's Hospital of Pennsylvania led the team in conducting a second scan on the DNA of 1,200 individuals from families affected by autism, as well as nearly 6,500 healthy controls. All participants shared European ancestry.

The scientists evaluated the relationship of more than half a million gene variants to autism and consistently discovered six changes that occurred more frequently in autistic children than in the control group. These variants sat on chromosome 5 between two genes, CDH9 and CDH10.

In the second half of the study, the UCLA team looked at the two genes' presence in the developing human brain. While CDH9's presence appeared minimal, the scientists discovered that CDH10 was most active in the fetal brain's frontal cortex, a region critical to language, social behavior and complex thought processes such as judgment.

"This is a landmark finding," Geschwind said. "It's no coincidence that a gene linked to autism has a higher concentration in key brain regions that regulate speech and the ability to interpret social interaction. Our research suggests that CDH10 is switched on at a very early stage and plays an important role in regulating the developing brain. This prenatal activity somehow makes the infant more susceptible to autism."

By influencing the development of important brain structures, CDH10 provides a tangible link between genes, brain circuitry and a child's future behavior, Geschwind noted. The discovery also opens up a number of intriguing next steps for research, including the possibility of an imaging study to explore whether the gene behaves differently in the autistic brain.

The DNA samples and clinical data were provided by families who donated blood to the Los Angeles–based Autism Genetic Resource Exchange (AGRE), a program created and funded by Cure Autism Now, which merged with Autism Speaks in 2007.

"When parents like me first formed AGRE, this was our dream, that talented scientists would use our gene bank to collaborate and bring us closer to understanding autism," said Jon Shestack, co-founder of Cure Autism Now and a board member of Autism Speaks. "AGRE has played an important role in almost every major autism genetics paper in the past five years."

Autism is a complex brain disorder that strikes in early childhood. The condition disrupts a child's ability to communicate and develop social relationships and is often accompanied by acute behavioral challenges. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that one in 150 American children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder; the disorder affects four times as many boys as girls. The diagnosis of autism has expanded tenfold in the last decade.

The UCLA portion of the study was supported primarily with funding from the National Institute of Mental Health. Geschwind's UCLA colleagues included Brett Abrahams, Rita Cantor, Hongmei Dong, Edward Herman, Ted Hutman, Ana Alvarez Retuerto, Marian Sigman and Lisa Sonnenblick.

Additional co-authors included scientists from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, USC, Autism Speaks, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Miami, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the University of Washington, the University of North Carolina, UC Davis, Yale University, the University of Illinois, the University of Utah, Indiana University, Vanderbilt University and the University of Pittsburgh.

The UCLA Center for Autism Research and Treatment provides diagnosis, family counseling and treatment for patients with autism. UCLA is one of eight centers in the National Institutes of Health–funded Studies to Advance Autism Research and Treatment network and one of 10 original Collaborative Programs for Excellence in Autism.

Roxanne Moster | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mednet.ucla.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs
16.01.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Cholera bacteria infect more effectively with a simple twist of shape
13.01.2017 | Princeton University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle

17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

17.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Smart homes will “LISTEN” to your voice

17.01.2017 | Architecture and Construction

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>