Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study characterizes epigenetic signatures of autism in brain tissue

Date:
November 8, 2011
Source:
JAMA and Archives Journals
Summary:
Neurons in the prefrontal cortex of individuals with autism show changes at numerous sites across the genome, according to a new study.

Neurons in the prefrontal cortex of individuals with autism show changes at numerous sites across the genome, according to a study being published Online First by the Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Autism spectrum disorders are a group of complex illnesses with different causes and origins. Neuronal dysfunction in the cerebral cortex and other regions of the brain could contribute to the cognitive and behavioral defects in autism, according to background information in the article. Neurons are nerve cells that send and receive electrical signals within the body.

Hennady P. Shulha, Ph.D., of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Mass., and colleagues examined the postmortem brain tissue of 16 individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (average age 17.4 years; range 2 to 60 years) and 16 controls without autism (ranging in age from less than one year to 70 years). The tissue was obtained through the Autism Tissue Program.

The study searched, on a genome-wide scale, for genes that show an abnormal epigenetic signature -- specifically histone methylation. Histones are small proteins attached to the DNA that control gene expression and activity. While genetic information is encoded by the (genome's) DNA sequence, methylation and other types of histone modifications regulate genome organization and gene expression. The study found hundreds of loci (the places genes occupy on chromosomes) across the genome affected by altered histone methylation in the brains of autistic individuals. However, only a small percentage -- less than 10 percent -- of the affected genes were affected by DNA mutations. It remains to be determined whether or not genetic changes elsewhere in the genome contributed to the observed epigenetic changes, or whether non-genetic factors were responsible for the disease process in some of the affected individuals.

"Prefrontal cortex neurons from subjects with autism show changes in chromatin (the substance of chromosomes) structures at hundreds of loci genome-wide, revealing considerable overlap between genetic and epigenetic risk maps of developmental brain disorders," the authors conclude.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by JAMA and Archives Journals. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. H. P. Shulha, I. Cheung, C. Whittle, J. Wang, D. Virgil, C. L. Lin, Y. Guo, A. Lessard, S. Akbarian, Z. Weng. Epigenetic Signatures of Autism: Trimethylated H3K4 Landscapes in Prefrontal Neurons. Archives of General Psychiatry, 2011; DOI: 10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2011.151

Cite This Page:

JAMA and Archives Journals. "Study characterizes epigenetic signatures of autism in brain tissue." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 November 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111107162734.htm>.
JAMA and Archives Journals. (2011, November 8). Study characterizes epigenetic signatures of autism in brain tissue. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111107162734.htm
JAMA and Archives Journals. "Study characterizes epigenetic signatures of autism in brain tissue." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111107162734.htm (accessed October 2, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) A new study says children born less than one year and more than five years after a sibling can have an increased risk for autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping School Violence

Stopping School Violence

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A trauma doctor steps out of the hospital and into the classroom to teach kids how to calmly solve conflicts, avoiding a trip to the ER. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A tiny cyst in the brain that can cause debilitating symptoms like chronic headaches and insomnia, and the doctor who performs the delicate surgery to remove them. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Burning Away Brain Tumors

Burning Away Brain Tumors

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) Doctors are 'cooking' brain tumors. Hear how this new laser-heat procedure cuts down on recovery time. Video provided by Ivanhoe
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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