Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Technology
Networks
Scientific Communities
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

New Hope for Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders

Published: Friday, November 23, 2012
Last Updated: Friday, November 23, 2012
Bookmark and Share
Researchers at McGill University and the University of Montreal uncover a crucial link between protein synthesis and autism spectrum disorders.

Researchers from McGill University and the University of Montreal have identified a crucial link between protein synthesis and autism spectrum disorders (ASD), which can bolster new therapeutic avenues. Regulation of protein synthesis, also termed mRNA translation, is the process by which cells manufacture proteins. This mechanism is involved in all aspects of cell and organism function. A new study in mice has found that abnormally high synthesis of a group of neuronal proteins called neuroligins results in symptoms similar to those diagnosed in ASD. The study also reveals that autism-like behaviors can be rectified in adult mice with compounds inhibiting protein synthesis, or with gene-therapy targeting neuroligins. Their results are published in the journal Nature.

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) encompass a wide array of neurodevelopmental diseases that affect three areas of behaviour: social interactions, communication and repetitive interests or behaviors. According to the U.S.-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 88 children suffer from ASD, and the disorder is reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. ASDs are almost five times more common among boys (1 in 54) than among girls (1 in 252).

“My lab is dedicated to elucidating the role of dysregulated protein synthesis in cancer etiology. However, our team was surprised to discover that similar mechanisms may be implicated in the development of ASD”, explained Prof. Nahum Sonenberg, from McGill’s Dept. of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, and the Goodman Cancer Research Centre. “We used a mouse model in which a key gene controlling initiation of protein synthesis was deleted. In these mice, production of neuroligins was increased. Neuroligins are important for the formation and regulation of connections known as synapses between neuronal cells in the brain and essential for the maintenance of the balance in the transmission of information from neuron to neuron.”
 
“Since the discovery of neuroligin mutations in individuals with ASD in 2003, the precise molecular mechanisms implicated remain unknown,” said Christos Gkogkas, a postdoctoral fellow at McGill and lead author. “Our work is the first to link translational control of neuroligins with altered synaptic function and autism-like behaviors in mice. The key is that we achieved reversal of ASD-like symptoms in adult mice. Firstly, we used compounds, which were previously developed for cancer treatment, to reduce protein synthesis. Secondly, we used non-replicating viruses as vehicles to put a break on exaggerated synthesis of neuroligins.”
 
Computer modeling played an important role in this research. “By using a new sophisticated computer algorithm that we specially developed to answer Dr. Sonenberg's questions, we identified the unique structures of mRNAs of the neuroligins that could be responsible for their specific regulation,” explained Prof. François Major, of the University of Montreal’s Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer and Department of Computer Science.
 
The researchers found that dysregulated synthesis of neuroligins augments synaptic activity, resulting in an imbalance between excitation and inhibition in single brain cells, opening up exciting new avenues for research that may unlock the secrets of autism.
 
“The autistic behaviours in mice were prevented by selectively reducing the synthesis of one type of neuroligin and reversing the changes in synaptic excitation in cells,” explained Prof. Jean-Claude Lacaille at the University of Montreal’s Groupe de Recherche sur le Système Nerveux Central and Department of Physiology. “In short, we manipulated mechanisms in brain cells and observed how they influence the behaviour of the animal.” The researchers were also able to reverse changes in inhibition and augment autistic behaviors by manipulating a second neuroligin. “The fact that the balance can be affected suggests that there could be a potential for pharmacological intervention by targeting these mechanisms,” Lacaille concluded.


Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 3,800+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

His and Hers Pain Circuitry in the Spinal Cord
New animal research reveals fundamental sex differences in how pain is processed.
Monday, July 06, 2015
Could Maple Syrup Help Cut Use Of Antibiotics?
Syrup extract found to make antibiotics more effective against bacteria.
Friday, April 17, 2015
Honey, I Shrunk The Ants: How Environment Controls Size
Ground breaking epigenetics research has implications for everything from cancer to farming.
Thursday, March 12, 2015
Revolutionary New Probe Zooms In On Cancer Cells
Improves tumour surgeries and extends survival times for brain cancer patients.
Thursday, February 12, 2015
Light Shed On Genetic Architecture Of Kidney Cancer
Research reveals link between renal cell carcinoma and exposure to aristolochic acid.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Watching the Hidden Life of Materials
Ultrafast electron diffraction experiments open a new window on the microscopic world.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Mice and Rats Stressed by Male Experimenters
An international team of pain researchers led by scientists at McGill University have found that the gender of the experimenters has a big impact on the stress levels of rodents.
Thursday, May 01, 2014
3D Genomics Offers Key to Disease
First study to address the value of three-dimensional genome organization in the classification of leukemia.
Thursday, May 01, 2014
Researchers Find Influenza has an Achilles’ Heel
The findings pave the way for an urgently needed therapy that is highly effective against the flu virus and potentially other viral infections.
Friday, April 11, 2014
Researchers Find Influenza has an Achilles’ Heel
The findings pave the way for an urgently needed therapy that is highly effective against the flu virus and potentially other viral infections.
Friday, April 11, 2014
Newly Discovered Effects of Vitamin D on Cancer
Vitamin D slows the progression of cells from premalignant to malignant states, keeping their proliferation in check.
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Study Reveals Major Genetic Differences between Blood and Tissue Cells
Important questions raised about genetic research based only on blood samples; new treatment in vascular disease foreseen at the same time.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Same Drug, Different Results: MUHC Researcher on the Path to Personalized Medicine
Minor genetic differences between individuals change the effect of a common medication, study shows.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Genetic Breakthrough Supercharges Immunity to Flu and Other Viruses
McGill researchers discover way to boost cells' natural anti-virus defences.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Why your Fertility Cells must have “Radio Silence”
Scientists discover why cells that become sperm and ova can’t copy their own genes.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Scientific News
NIH Study Finds Calorie Restriction Lowers Some Risk Factors for Age-Related Diseases
Two-year trial did not produce expected metabolic changes, but influenced other life span markers.
Immunotherapy Agent Benefits Patients with Drug-Resistant Multiple Myeloma in First Human Trial
Daratumumab proved generally safe in patients, even at the highest doses.
Low-level Arsenic Exposure Before Birth Associated with Early Puberty in Female Mice
Study examine whether low-dose arsenic exposure could have similar health outcomes in humans.
Inciting an Immune Attack On Cancer Cells
A new minimally invasive vaccine that combines cancer cells and immune-enhancing factors could be used clinically to launch a destructive attack on tumors.
‘Mutation-Tracking’ Blood Test for Breast Cancer
Scientists have developed a blood test for breast cancer able to identify which patients will suffer a relapse after treatment, months before tumours are visible on hospital scans.
Cellular Contamination Pathway for Heavy Elements Identified
Berkeley Lab scientists find that an iron-binding protein can transport actinides into cells.
Intensity of Desert Storms May Affect Ocean Phytoplankton
MIT study finds phytoplankton are extremely sensitive to changing levels of desert dust.
Common ‘Heart Attack’ Blood Test May Predict Future Hypertension
Small rises in troponin levels may have value as markers for subclinical heart damage and high blood pressure.
LaVision BioTec Reports on the Neuro Research on the Human Brain After Trauma
Company reports on the work of Dr Ali Ertürk from the Institute for Stroke and Dementia Research at LMU Munich.
NIH Study Shows No Benefit of Omega-3 Supplements for Cognitive Decline
Research was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,800+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!