Random changes in gene expression can cause genetically identical embryos to develop different traits, according to a study of worms published in Nature. The findings suggest that haphazard movements of molecules could partly explain why autism-associated mutations don’t always cause the same symptoms.
Spectrum: Autism Research News
Tag: Rett syndrome
The protein that is mutated in Rett syndrome controls the expression of other genes by changing the way DNA packs into a cell, rather than turning genes on or off, according to a study published in Molecular Cell.
The pupils of children with autism contract more slowly in response to flashes of light than those of their healthy peers, according to findings published in the November issue of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
Deleting MeCP2, the gene that’s mutated in Rett syndrome, alters both the size and function of neurons in the mouse brain — at least in one brain region, the locus ceruleus — according to a 30 September report in the Journal of Neuroscience.
Although the head overall is bigger in some children with autism, researchers have found more informative differences in size — some smaller, some larger — across regions of the brain.
Giving mouse models of Rett syndrome access to toys, wheels and contact with other mice rescues motor skill and other deficits characteristic of the disorder, according to results presented in a poster session Wednesday at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Chicago.