US Researchers Identify Gene Network Linked to Autism

U.S. scientists have identified a molecular network of genes known to contribute to autism spectrum disorders, and they say their finding may help uncover new genes linked to these conditions.

“The study of autism disorders is extremely challenging due to the large number of clinical mutations that occur in hundreds of different human genes associated with autism,” study author Michael Snyder, genetics and personalized medicine professor at Stanford University, said in a news release. “We therefore wanted to see to what extent shared molecular pathways are perturbed by the diverse set of mutations linked to autism in the hope of distilling tractable information that would benefit future studies.”

According to the news release, researchers used gene expression data and genome sequencing to study the whole set of interactions within a cell, and they identified a module comprised of 119 proteins linked to autism genes.

The sequencing of the genomes was present in 25 study participants who had been diagnosed with autism, which confirmed the involvement of the module in autism. The autism candidate genes in the module were also present in more than 500 diagnosed patients who were analyzed by exome sequencing.