Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Different Genes May Cause Autism In Boys And Girls

Date:
July 31, 2006
Source:
University of Washington
Summary:
Different genes may be responsible for causing autism in boys than in girls, as well as the early onset form of the development disorder and the regression type of autism, according to a new study. It also provides new evidence that multiple genes contribute to autism.

Like detectives trying to solve a murder case, researchers searching for the biological cause of autism have come up with some surprising suspects.

They've found that different genes may be responsible for causing autism in boys than in girls.

In addition, the researchers also have discovered that other genes may play a role in the early onset form of the developmental disorder and in the recently verified regression, or late onset, type of autism, according to a new study published today in the online edition of the journal Molecular Genetics.

The study also provides new evidence for the idea that multiple genes contribute to autism, said lead author Gerard Schellenberg, a researcher at the Puget Sound Veterans Affairs Medical Center and a research professor of medicine at the University of Washington. The research team was headed by Schellenberg, Ellen Wijsman, a UW research professor of medical genetics and Geraldine Dawson, director of the UW's Autism Center.

"It is highly unlikely that there is only one gene responsible for autism," said Schellenberg. "There may be four to six major genes and 20 to 30 others that might contribute to autism to a lesser degree.

"If an individual only gets three high-risk variants of these genes, it could mean a less-severe form of autism. And because autism is rarer in females, it may take more risk genes for a female to have autism. There also is the possibility that there might be a biological difference in autism for females versus males," he said.

"What is meaningful is that we have found evidence for two genetic subtypes of autism, male versus female and early versus late onset," added Geraldine Dawson, a professor of psychology. "This is a critical piece of information. With Alzheimer's disease research, one big breakthrough was segregating the late and early onset forms of the disease, and this led to important genetic discoveries."

Schellenberg said the study came up with "strong support" for an autism gene on chromosome 7 and "less, but still compelling evidence" for genes on chromosomes 3, 4 and 11. These results confirm some data from previous studies, particularly involving chromosome 7.

The search for autism genes is part of a long-term Autism Center effort to uncover the genetic and neurobiological causes of autism. To find regions of the human genome that contain autism genes, the researchers scanned the DNA of 169 families that had at least two siblings who met the strict criteria for autism. They also scanned the DNA of another 54 families that, in addition to having individuals with strictly defined autism, also included members who had less severe forms of the disorder, such as Asperger syndrome.

"We have been working almost 10 years to get to this point," said Schellenberg. "If we can find and confirm that a particular gene is involved in autism the field will explode. We have to find a gene so that molecular biology can be defined and we can understand what's inside autism. Until that happens, we are dancing on the outside."

Dawson said the researchers are looking for autism susceptibility genes, ones that heighten the risk of an individual getting autism, just as there are genes that raise the chances of getting breast cancer.

"Once we discover these susceptibility genes, we can immediately screen infants to identify those at risk early in life. Early identification can lead to early intervention, which could have a much more dramatic effect.

"Also, when a gene is discovered, you discover the underlying biology of autism at the molecular level. Once you understand the biology you can develop a prevention strategy including medical approaches. Genetic research is a good strategy for eventually designing effective medical treatments for autism," she said.

The research is part of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Collaborative Program of Excellence in Autism. The research is ongoing and families who have more than one child of any age with an autism spectrum disorder who are interested in participating in the UW genetics study can call toll free 1-800-994-9701.

Co-authors of the paper are Yun Ju Sung, Annette Estes, Jeff Munson, Elisabeth Rosenthal and Joseph Rothstein of the University of Washington; Leslie Leong and Chang-En Yu of the Puget Sound Veterans Affairs Medical Center; Patricia Rodier of the University of Rochester Medical Center; M. Ann Spencer of the University of California, Irvine; Nancy Minshew of the University of Pittsburgh; and William McMahon of the University of Utah.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Washington. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Washington. "Different Genes May Cause Autism In Boys And Girls." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 July 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/07/060731140539.htm>.
University of Washington. (2006, July 31). Different Genes May Cause Autism In Boys And Girls. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/07/060731140539.htm
University of Washington. "Different Genes May Cause Autism In Boys And Girls." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/07/060731140539.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Researchers say women who diet at a young age are at greater risk of developing harmful health habits, including eating disorders and alcohol abuse. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

Newsy (July 29, 2014) If you've been looking for love online, there's a chance somebody has been looking at how you're looking. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

Newsy (July 29, 2014) Researchers have found certain facial features can make us seem more attractive or trustworthy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins