Autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability often occur together and may even share similar genetic causes. Researchers reporting in Cell Reports have now linked mutations in a particular gene to the two disorders in humans. By revealing these genetic changes and their potential impact on common brain processes, researchers may uncover treatment approaches that could benefit a variety of patients.
In a study of four families with a total of 16 individuals affected by a spectrum of cognitive and social impairments, the research team, led by investigators from Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, discovered two mutations in the CC2D1A gene that prevent the gene’s expression. When inherited from both parents, the lack of gene expression can cause mild to severe intellectual disability, autism, and/or seizures. The scientists then explored the function of this gene through experiments in mice.
A neuron must perform a very complex balancing act to respond to signals from other cells, and the researchers found that CC2D1A is a key component in controlling this balance. A critical part of that balance involves the control of a signalling pathway that relies on NF-kappaB, a protein necessary for the survival and function of neurons. Reducing CC2D1A expression in mice led to decreased complexity of neurons and to increased NF-kappaB activity. Furthermore, the effects of CC2D1A depletion in neurons could be reversed by treating the mice with compounds that inhibit NF-kappaB activity.
The team hope that in the future, by fully understanding how this gene affects signalling in the brain, the medical community may be able to identify drugs to restore the normal signalling balance in neurons and improve cognitive and social function in patients.
In addition, by studying how the same exact genetic change can cause either intellectual disability or autism, researchers can explore how these disorders originate and where they overlap.
The researchers plan to investigate what percentage of individuals individuals with intellectual disability and autism may carry CC2D1A mutations and to determine whether other genes affect neurons in a similar fashion.
Source: Harvard Medical School
autism, biomarker, developmental disease, dna, DNA methylation, epigenetics, gene, genetics, genome, genomics, healthinnovations, methylation, mutation, neurobiology, neurodevelopment, neuroimaging, neuroinnovations, neurology, neuropsychiatry, neuroscience
Michelle Petersen is the founder of Healthinnovations, having worked in the health and science industry for over 21 years, which includes tenure within the NHS and Oxford University. Healthinnovations is a publication that has reported on, influenced, and researched current and future innovations in health for the past decade.
Michelle has been picked up as an expert writer for Informa publisher’s Clinical Trials community, as well as being listed as a blog source by the world’s leading medical journals, including the acclaimed Nature-Springer journal series.
Healthinnovations is currently indexed by the trusted Altmetric and PlumX metrics systems, respectively, as a blog source for published research globally. Healthinnovations is also featured in the world-renowned BioPortfolio, BioPortfolio.com, the life science, pharmaceutical and healthcare portal.
Most recently the Texas A&M University covered The Top 10 Healthinnovations series on their site with distinguished Professor Stephen Maren calling the inclusion of himself and his team on the list a reflection of “the hard work and dedication of my students and trainees”.
Michelle Petersen’s copy was used in the highly successful marketing campaign for the mega-hit film ‘Jumanji: The Next Level, starring Jack Black, Karen Gilian, Kevin Hart and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Michelle Petersen’s copywriting was part of the film’s coverage by the Republic TV network. Republic TV is the most-watched English language TV channel in India since its inception in 2017.
An avid campaigner in the fight against child sex abuse and trafficking, Michelle is a passionate humanist striving for a better quality of life for all humans by helping to provide traction for new technologies and techniques within healthcare.