Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Autism-like behaviors reversed in mice: New hope for understanding autism

Date:
November 21, 2012
Source:
Universite de Montreal
Summary:
Researchers have uncovered a crucial link between protein synthesis and autism spectrum disorder. 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.

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) encompass a wide array of neurodevelopmental disorders that affect three areas of behaviour: social interactions, communication and repetitive interests or behaviors.
Credit: © Tramper2 / Fotolia

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.

Related Articles


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.

This work is funded by grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Autism Speaks Agency and the Fonds de la recherche du Québec – Santé. Prof. Lacaille holds the Canada Research Chair in Cellular and Molecular Neurophysiology. The University of Montreal is officially known as Université de Montréal.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Universite de Montreal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Christos G. Gkogkas, Arkady Khoutorsky, Israeli Ran, Emmanouil Rampakakis, Tatiana Nevarko, Daniel B. Weatherill, Cristina Vasuta, Stephanie Yee, Morgan Truitt, Paul Dallaire, François Major, Paul Lasko, Davide Ruggero, Karim Nader, Jean-Claude Lacaille, Nahum Sonenberg. Autism-related deficits via dysregulated eIF4E-dependent translational control. Nature, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/nature11628

Cite This Page:

Universite de Montreal. "Autism-like behaviors reversed in mice: New hope for understanding autism." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121121145402.htm>.
Universite de Montreal. (2012, November 21). Autism-like behaviors reversed in mice: New hope for understanding autism. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121121145402.htm
Universite de Montreal. "Autism-like behaviors reversed in mice: New hope for understanding autism." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121121145402.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) — Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) — Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. 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:

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