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Engrailed-2 (En2) deletion produces multiple neurodevelopmental defects in monoamine systems, forebrain structures and neurogenesis and behavior.

July 13, 2016 - 7:29am
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Engrailed-2 (En2) deletion produces multiple neurodevelopmental defects in monoamine systems, forebrain structures and neurogenesis and behavior.

Hum Mol Genet. 2015 Oct 15;24(20):5805-27

Authors: Genestine M, Lin L, Durens M, Yan Y, Jiang Y, Prem S, Bailoor K, Kelly B, Sonsalla PK, Matteson PG, Silverman J, Crawley JN, Millonig JH, DiCicco-Bloom E

Abstract
Many genes involved in brain development have been associated with human neurodevelopmental disorders, but underlying pathophysiological mechanisms remain undefined. Human genetic and mouse behavioral analyses suggest that ENGRAILED-2 (EN2) contributes to neurodevelopmental disorders, especially autism spectrum disorder. In mouse, En2 exhibits dynamic spatiotemporal expression in embryonic mid-hindbrain regions where monoamine neurons emerge. Considering their importance in neuropsychiatric disorders, we characterized monoamine systems in relation to forebrain neurogenesis in En2-knockout (En2-KO) mice. Transmitter levels of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine (NE) were dysregulated from Postnatal day 7 (P7) to P21 in En2-KO, though NE exhibited the greatest abnormalities. While NE levels were reduced ∼35% in forebrain, they were increased 40 -: 75% in hindbrain and cerebellum, and these patterns paralleled changes in locus coeruleus (LC) fiber innervation, respectively. Although En2 promoter was active in Embryonic day 14.5 -: 15.5 LC neurons, expression diminished thereafter and gene deletion did not alter brainstem NE neuron numbers. Significantly, in parallel with reduced NE levels, En2-KO forebrain regions exhibited reduced growth, particularly hippocampus, where P21 dentate gyrus granule neurons were decreased 16%, suggesting abnormal neurogenesis. Indeed, hippocampal neurogenic regions showed increased cell death (+77%) and unexpectedly, increased proliferation. Excess proliferation was restricted to early Sox2/Tbr2 progenitors whereas increased apoptosis occurred in differentiating (Dcx) neuroblasts, accompanied by reduced newborn neuron survival. Abnormal neurogenesis may reflect NE deficits because intra-hippocampal injections of β-adrenergic agonists reversed cell death. These studies suggest that disruption of hindbrain patterning genes can alter monoamine system development and thereby produce forebrain defects that are relevant to human neurodevelopmental disorders.

PMID: 26220976 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Plausible etiology of brain dysconnectivity in autism - Review and prospectus.

July 13, 2016 - 7:29am
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Plausible etiology of brain dysconnectivity in autism - Review and prospectus.

Med Hypotheses. 2015 Oct;85(4):405-7

Authors: Steinman G

Abstract
This report summarizes recent findings related to the neuropathology of autism. Combining the relevant observations assessed here, a comprehensive, coherent hypothesis explaining the etiology of juvenile autism may be deduced. This proposed mechanism describes a process initiated by insulin-like growth factor deficiency, resulting in brain dysconnectivity as central to the behavioral manifestations of this disease.

PMID: 26141637 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Prenatal Choline Supplementation Diminishes Early-Life Iron Deficiency-Induced Reprogramming of Molecular Networks Associated with Behavioral Abnormalities in the Adult Rat Hippocampus.

July 12, 2016 - 7:27am
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Prenatal Choline Supplementation Diminishes Early-Life Iron Deficiency-Induced Reprogramming of Molecular Networks Associated with Behavioral Abnormalities in the Adult Rat Hippocampus.

J Nutr. 2016 Mar;146(3):484-93

Authors: Tran PV, Kennedy BC, Pisansky MT, Won KJ, Gewirtz JC, Simmons RA, Georgieff MK

Abstract
BACKGROUND: Early-life iron deficiency is a common nutrient deficiency worldwide. Maternal iron deficiency increases the risk of schizophrenia and autism in the offspring. Postnatal iron deficiency in young children results in cognitive and socioemotional abnormalities in adulthood despite iron treatment. The rat model of diet-induced fetal-neonatal iron deficiency recapitulates the observed neurobehavioral deficits.
OBJECTIVES: We sought to establish molecular underpinnings for the persistent psychopathologic effects of early-life iron deficiency by determining whether it permanently reprograms the hippocampal transcriptome. We also assessed the effects of maternal dietary choline supplementation on the offspring's hippocampal transcriptome to identify pathways through which choline mitigates the emergence of long-term cognitive deficits.
METHODS: Male rat pups were made iron deficient (ID) by providing pregnant and nursing dams an ID diet (4 g Fe/kg) from gestational day (G) 2 through postnatal day (PND) 7 and an iron-sufficient (IS) diet (200 g Fe/kg) thereafter. Control pups were provided IS diet throughout. Choline (5 g/kg) was given to half the pregnant dams in each group from G11 to G18. PND65 hippocampal transcriptomes were assayed by next generation sequencing (NGS) and analyzed with the use of knowledge-based Ingenuity Pathway Analysis. Real-time polymerase chain reaction was performed to validate a subset of altered genes.
RESULTS: Formerly ID rats had altered hippocampal expression of 619 from >10,000 gene loci sequenced by NGS, many of which map onto molecular networks implicated in psychological disorders, including anxiety, autism, and schizophrenia. There were significant interactions between iron status and prenatal choline treatment in influencing gene expression. Choline supplementation reduced the effects of iron deficiency, including those on gene networks associated with autism and schizophrenia.
CONCLUSIONS: Fetal-neonatal iron deficiency reprograms molecular networks associated with the pathogenesis of neurologic and psychological disorders in adult rats. The positive response to prenatal choline represents a potential adjunctive therapeutic supplement to the high-risk group.

PMID: 26865644 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Cadherin-13, a risk gene for ADHD and comorbid disorders, impacts GABAergic function in hippocampus and cognition.

July 12, 2016 - 7:27am
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Cadherin-13, a risk gene for ADHD and comorbid disorders, impacts GABAergic function in hippocampus and cognition.

Transl Psychiatry. 2015;5:e655

Authors: Rivero O, Selten MM, Sich S, Popp S, Bacmeister L, Amendola E, Negwer M, Schubert D, Proft F, Kiser D, Schmitt AG, Gross C, Kolk SM, Strekalova T, van den Hove D, Resink TJ, Nadif Kasri N, Lesch KP

Abstract
Cadherin-13 (CDH13), a unique glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored member of the cadherin family of cell adhesion molecules, has been identified as a risk gene for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and various comorbid neurodevelopmental and psychiatric conditions, including depression, substance abuse, autism spectrum disorder and violent behavior, while the mechanism whereby CDH13 dysfunction influences pathogenesis of neuropsychiatric disorders remains elusive. Here we explored the potential role of CDH13 in the inhibitory modulation of brain activity by investigating synaptic function of GABAergic interneurons. Cellular and subcellular distribution of CDH13 was analyzed in the murine hippocampus and a mouse model with a targeted inactivation of Cdh13 was generated to evaluate how CDH13 modulates synaptic activity of hippocampal interneurons and behavioral domains related to psychopathologic (endo)phenotypes. We show that CDH13 expression in the cornu ammonis (CA) region of the hippocampus is confined to distinct classes of interneurons. Specifically, CDH13 is expressed by numerous parvalbumin and somatostatin-expressing interneurons located in the stratum oriens, where it localizes to both the soma and the presynaptic compartment. Cdh13(-/-) mice show an increase in basal inhibitory, but not excitatory, synaptic transmission in CA1 pyramidal neurons. Associated with these alterations in hippocampal function, Cdh13(-/-) mice display deficits in learning and memory. Taken together, our results indicate that CDH13 is a negative regulator of inhibitory synapses in the hippocampus, and provide insights into how CDH13 dysfunction may contribute to the excitatory/inhibitory imbalance observed in neurodevelopmental disorders, such as ADHD and autism.

PMID: 26460479 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Shared functional defect in IP₃R-mediated calcium signaling in diverse monogenic autism syndromes.

July 12, 2016 - 7:27am
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Shared functional defect in IP₃R-mediated calcium signaling in diverse monogenic autism syndromes.

Transl Psychiatry. 2015;5:e643

Authors: Schmunk G, Boubion BJ, Smith IF, Parker I, Gargus JJ

Abstract
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects 2% of children, and is characterized by impaired social and communication skills together with repetitive, stereotypic behavior. The pathophysiology of ASD is complex due to genetic and environmental heterogeneity, complicating the development of therapies and making diagnosis challenging. Growing genetic evidence supports a role of disrupted Ca(2+) signaling in ASD. Here, we report that patient-derived fibroblasts from three monogenic models of ASD-fragile X and tuberous sclerosis TSC1 and TSC2 syndromes-display depressed Ca(2+) release through inositol trisphosphate receptors (IP3Rs). This was apparent in Ca(2+) signals evoked by G protein-coupled receptors and by photoreleased IP3 at the levels of both global and local elementary Ca(2+) events, suggesting fundamental defects in IP3R channel activity in ASD. Given the ubiquitous involvement of IP3R-mediated Ca(2+) signaling in neuronal excitability, synaptic plasticity, gene expression and neurodevelopment, we propose dysregulated IP3R signaling as a nexus where genes altered in ASD converge to exert their deleterious effect. These findings highlight potential pharmaceutical targets, and identify Ca(2+) screening in skin fibroblasts as a promising technique for early detection of individuals susceptible to ASD.

PMID: 26393489 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Escitalopram pharmacogenetics: CYP2C19 relationships with dosing and clinical outcomes in autism spectrum disorder.

July 12, 2016 - 7:27am
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Escitalopram pharmacogenetics: CYP2C19 relationships with dosing and clinical outcomes in autism spectrum disorder.

Pharmacogenet Genomics. 2015 Nov;25(11):548-54

Authors: Bishop JR, Najjar F, Rubin LH, Guter SJ, Owley T, Mosconi MW, Jacob S, Cook EH

Abstract
BACKGROUND AND AIM: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as escitalopram are commonly used to treat patients with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but there are individual differences in treatment response and tolerability. CYP2C19 encodes the primary enzyme responsible for escitalopram metabolism and we investigated whether polymorphisms in CYP2C19 were related to symptoms and dosing in a pharmacogenetic study of ASD.
PARTICIPANTS AND METHODS: Participants completed the Aberrant Behavior Checklist--Community Version (ABC-CV) weekly for 6 weeks. Escitalopram was initiated at a dose of 2.5 mg per day, with weekly increases to 20 mg unless intolerable side-effects occurred. Three CYP2C19 metabolizer groups, including ultrarapid, extensive, and reduced metabolizers, were examined in relation to symptom improvement and tolerated dose.
RESULTS: ABC-CV scores improved over the course of treatment (P<0.0001). No differences were identified in the rate of improvement across metabolizer groups for the ABC-CV irritability subscale, which was the primary outcome for clinical symptoms. There was a trend for a metabolizer group by time interaction with respect to dose (P=0.10). This interaction was driven by the linear rate of change from week 1 to study endpoint between the reduced metabolizers and ultrarapid metabolizer groups (P=0.05). Post-hoc analyses identified significant differences in the rate of dose escalation between ultrarapid metabolizers and extensive metabolizers and for ultrarapid metabolizers compared with reduced metabolizers (P's<0.04), whereby ultrarapid metabolizers showed a slower rate of change in dose over time.
CONCLUSION: CYP2C19 ultrarapid metabolizers were associated with reduced tolerance to a fixed titration schedule of open-label escitalopram in this ASD study sample. Possible explanations may involve the altered kinetics of faster metabolizers or previously unknown activities of escitalopram metabolites.

PMID: 26313485 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

hVGAT-mCherry: A novel molecular tool for analysis of GABAergic neurons derived from human pluripotent stem cells.

July 12, 2016 - 7:27am
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hVGAT-mCherry: A novel molecular tool for analysis of GABAergic neurons derived from human pluripotent stem cells.

Mol Cell Neurosci. 2015 Sep;68:244-57

Authors: DeRosa BA, Belle KC, Thomas BJ, Cukier HN, Pericak-Vance MA, Vance JM, Dykxhoorn DM

Abstract
BACKGROUND: GABAergic synaptic transmission is known to play a critical role in the assembly of neuronal circuits during development and is responsible for maintaining the balance between excitatory and inhibitory signaling in the brain during maturation into adulthood. Importantly, defects in GABAergic neuronal function and signaling have been linked to a number of neurological diseases, including autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia, and epilepsy. With patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-based models of neurological disease, it is now possible to investigate the disease mechanisms that underlie deficits in GABAergic function in affected human neurons. To that end, tools that enable the labeling and purification of viable GABAergic neurons from human pluripotent stem cells would be of great value.
RESULTS: To address the need for tools that facilitate the identification and isolation of viable GABAergic neurons from the in vitro differentiation of iPSC lines, a cell type-specific promoter-driven fluorescent reporter construct was developed that utilizes the human vesicular GABA transporter (hVGAT) promoter to drive the expression of mCherry specifically in VGAT-expressing neurons. The transduction of iPSC-derived forebrain neuronal cultures with the hVGAT promoter-mCherry lentiviral reporter construct specifically labeled GABAergic neurons. Immunocytochemical analysis of hVGAT-mCherry expression cells showed significant co-labeling with the GABAergic neuronal markers for endogenous VGAT, GABA, and GAD67. Expression of mCherry from the VGAT promoter showed expression in several cortical interneuron subtypes to similar levels. In addition, an effective and reproducible protocol was developed to facilitate the fluorescent activated cell sorting (FACS)-mediated purification of high yields of viable VGAT-positive cells.
CONCLUSIONS: These studies demonstrate the utility of the hVGAT-mCherry reporter construct as an effective tool for studying GABAergic neurons differentiated in vitro from human pluripotent stem cells. This approach could provide a means of obtaining large quantities of viable GABAergic neurons derived from disease-specific hiPSCs that could be used for functional assays or high-throughput screening of small molecule libraries.

PMID: 26284979 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Calcium Channel Mutations in Cardiac Arrhythmia Syndromes.

July 12, 2016 - 7:27am
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Calcium Channel Mutations in Cardiac Arrhythmia Syndromes.

Curr Mol Pharmacol. 2015;8(2):133-42

Authors: Betzenhauser MJ, Pitt GS, Antzelevitch C

Abstract
Voltage gated calcium channels are essential for cardiac physiology by serving as sarcolemma- restricted gatekeepers for calcium in cardiac myocytes. Activation of the L-type voltagegated calcium channel provides the calcium entry required for excitation-contraction coupling and contributes to the plateau phase of the cardiac action potential. Given these critical physiological roles, subtle disturbances in L-type channel function can lead to fatal cardiac arrhythmias. Indeed, numerous human arrhythmia syndromes have been linked to mutations in the L-type channel leading to gain-of-function or loss-of-function mutations. In this review, we discuss the current state of knowledge regarding these mutations present in Timothy Syndrome, Long and Short QT Syndromes, Brugada Syndrome and Early Repolarization Syndrome. We discuss the pathological consequences of the mutations, the biophysical effects of the mutations on the channel as well as possible therapeutic considerations and challenges for future studies.

PMID: 25981977 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Voltage-gated Calcium Channels and Autism Spectrum Disorders.

July 12, 2016 - 7:27am
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Voltage-gated Calcium Channels and Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Curr Mol Pharmacol. 2015;8(2):123-32

Authors: Breitenkamp AF, Matthes J, Herzig S

Abstract
Autism spectrum disorder is a complex-genetic disease and its etiology is unknown for the majority of cases. So far, more than one hundred different susceptibility genes were detected. Voltage-gated calcium channels are among the candidates linked to autism spectrum disorder by results of genetic studies. Mutations of nearly all pore-forming and some auxiliary subunits of voltage gated calcium channels have been revealed from investigations of autism spectrum disorder patients and populations. Though there are only few electrophysiological characterizations of voltage-gated calcium channel mutations found in autistic patients these studies suggest their functional relevance. In summary, both genetic and functional data suggest a potential role of voltage-gated calcium channels in autism spectrum disorder. Future studies require refinement of the clinical and systems biological concepts of autism spectrum disorder and an appropriate holistic approach at the molecular level, e.g. regarding all facets of calcium channel functions.

PMID: 25966693 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Engineering microdeletions and microduplications by targeting segmental duplications with CRISPR.

July 9, 2016 - 7:21am
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Engineering microdeletions and microduplications by targeting segmental duplications with CRISPR.

Nat Neurosci. 2016 Mar;19(3):517-22

Authors: Tai DJ, Ragavendran A, Manavalan P, Stortchevoi A, Seabra CM, Erdin S, Collins RL, Blumenthal I, Chen X, Shen Y, Sahin M, Zhang C, Lee C, Gusella JF, Talkowski ME

Abstract
Recurrent, reciprocal genomic disorders resulting from non-allelic homologous recombination (NAHR) between near-identical segmental duplications (SDs) are a major cause of human disease, often producing phenotypically distinct syndromes. The genomic architecture of flanking SDs presents a challenge for modeling these syndromes; however, the capability to efficiently generate reciprocal copy number variants (CNVs) that mimic NAHR would represent a valuable modeling tool. We describe here a CRISPR/Cas9 genome engineering method, single-guide CRISPR/Cas targeting of repetitive elements (SCORE), to model reciprocal genomic disorders and demonstrate its capabilities by generating reciprocal CNVs of 16p11.2 and 15q13.3, including alteration of one copy-equivalent of the SDs that mediate NAHR in vivo. The method is reproducible, and RNA sequencing reliably clusters transcriptional signatures from human subjects with in vivo CNVs and their corresponding in vitro models. This new approach will provide broad applicability for the study of genomic disorders and, with further development, may also permit efficient correction of these defects.

PMID: 26829649 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

A New Case of an Extremely Rare 3p21.31 Interstitial Deletion.

July 8, 2016 - 7:19am

A New Case of an Extremely Rare 3p21.31 Interstitial Deletion.

Mol Syndromol. 2016 May;7(2):93-98

Authors: Lovrecic L, Bertok S, Žerjav Tanšek M

Abstract
Interstitial 3p21.31 deletions have been very rarely reported. We describe a 7-year-old boy with global developmental delay, specific facial characteristics, hydronephrosis, and hypothyreosis with a de novo deletion of 3p21.31, encompassing 29 OMIM genes. Despite the wide use of microarrays, no similar case has been reported in the literature so far. Five overlapping cases are deposited in the DECIPHER database, 2 of which have significant overlapping chromosomal aberrations. They both share some phenotypic characteristics with our case, e.g. developmental delay, intellectual disability and facial dysmorphism (arched eyebrows, hypertelorism, low-set ears, and a large nose tip). In addition, loss-of-function mutations in the SETD2 gene (OMIM 612778) of the deleted region have been described in 3 patients, presenting with some similar clinical features, namely overgrowth, intellectual disability, speech delay, hypotonia, autism, and epilepsy. Therefore, SETD2 may explain part of the phenotype in our case. We focused on 3 other genes in the deleted region, based on their known functions, namely CSPG5 (OMIM 606775), PTH1R (OMIM 168468) and SMARCC1 (OMIM 601732), and assessed their potentially important role in describing the patient's phenotype. Additional cases with haploinsufficiency of this region are needed to elucidate further genotype-phenotype correlations.

PMID: 27385966 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Mothers of Children with Autism have Different Rates of Cancer According to the Presence of Intellectual Disability in Their Child.

July 8, 2016 - 7:19am

Mothers of Children with Autism have Different Rates of Cancer According to the Presence of Intellectual Disability in Their Child.

J Autism Dev Disord. 2016 Jul 6;

Authors: Fairthorne JC, de Klerk NH, Leonard HM, Whitehouse AJ

Abstract
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and intellectual disability (ID) are neurodevelopmental disorders with strong genetic components. Increasingly, research attention has focused on whether genetic factors conveying susceptibility for these conditions, also influence the risk of other health conditions, such as cancer. We examined the occurrence of hospital admissions and treatment/services for cancer in mothers of children with ASD with or without ID compared with other mothers. After linking Western Australian administrative health databases, we used Cox regression to estimate the hazard ratios (HRs) of any hospitalisations and treatment/services for cancer in these groups of mothers. Mothers of children with ASD without ID had greater risk of admissions for cancer (HR 1.29 [95 % CI 1.1, 1.7]), and for treatment/services in particular (HR 1.41 [95 % CI 1.0, 2.0]), than mothers of children with no ASD/ID, while mothers of children with ASD with ID were no more likely to have a cancer-related hospital admission than other mothers. Mothers of children with autism without ID had increased risk of cancer, which may relate to common genetic pathways.

PMID: 27384537 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Selective Deletion of Astroglial FMRP Dysregulates Glutamate Transporter GLT1 and Contributes to Fragile X Syndrome Phenotypes In Vivo.

July 8, 2016 - 7:19am

Selective Deletion of Astroglial FMRP Dysregulates Glutamate Transporter GLT1 and Contributes to Fragile X Syndrome Phenotypes In Vivo.

J Neurosci. 2016 Jul 6;36(27):7079-7094

Authors: Higashimori H, Schin CS, Chiang MS, Morel L, Shoneye TA, Nelson DL, Yang Y

Abstract
How the loss of fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP) in different brain cell types, especially in non-neuron glial cells, induces fragile X syndrome (FXS) phenotypes has just begun to be understood. In the current study, we generated inducible astrocyte-specific Fmr1 conditional knock-out mice (i-astro-Fmr1-cKO) and restoration mice (i-astro-Fmr1-cON) to study the in vivo modulation of FXS synaptic phenotypes by astroglial FMRP. We found that functional expression of glutamate transporter GLT1 is 40% decreased in i-astro-Fmr1-cKO somatosensory cortical astrocytes in vivo, which can be fully rescued by the selective re-expression of FMRP in astrocytes in i-astro-Fmr1-cON mice. Although the selective loss of astroglial FMRP only modestly increases spine density and length in cortical pyramidal neurons, selective re-expression of FMRP in astrocytes significantly attenuates abnormal spine morphology in these neurons of i-astro-Fmr1-cON mice. Moreover, we found that basal protein synthesis levels and immunoreactivity of phosphorylated S6 ribosomal protein (p-s6P) is significantly increased in i-astro-Fmr1-cKO mice, while the enhanced cortical protein synthesis observed in Fmr1 KO mice is mitigated in i-astro-Fmr1-cON mice. Furthermore, ceftriaxone-mediated upregulation of surface GLT1 expression restores functional glutamate uptake and attenuates enhanced neuronal excitability in Fmr1 KO mice. In particular, ceftriaxone significantly decreases the growth rate of abnormally accelerated body weight and completely corrects spine abnormality in Fmr1 KO mice. Together, these results show that the selective loss of astroglial FMRP contributes to cortical synaptic deficits in FXS, presumably through dysregulated astroglial glutamate transporter GLT1 and impaired glutamate uptake. These results suggest the involvement of astrocyte-mediated mechanisms in the pathogenesis of FXS.
SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: Previous studies to understand how the loss of function of fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP) causes fragile X syndrome (FXS) have largely focused on neurons; whether the selective loss of astroglial FMRP in vivo alters astrocyte functions and contributes to the pathogenesis of FXS remain essentially unknown. This has become a long-standing unanswered question in the fragile X field, which is also relevant to autism pathogenesis. Our current study generated astrocyte-specific Fmr1 conditional knock-out and restoration mice, and provided compelling evidence that the selective loss of astroglial FMRP contributes to cortical synaptic deficits in FXS, likely through the dysregulated astroglial glutamate transporter GLT1 expression and impaired glutamate uptake. These results demonstrate previously undescribed astrocyte-mediated mechanisms in the pathogenesis of FXS.

PMID: 27383586 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

An Autistic Endophenotype and Testosterone Are Involved in an Atypical Decline in Selective Attention and Visuospatial Processing in Middle-Aged Women.

July 7, 2016 - 7:16am
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An Autistic Endophenotype and Testosterone Are Involved in an Atypical Decline in Selective Attention and Visuospatial Processing in Middle-Aged Women.

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2015 Dec;12(12):15960-6

Authors: Ángel RM, Luis MA

Abstract
Mothers of offspring with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) could present mild forms of their children's cognitive characteristics, resulting from prenatal brain exposure and sensitivity to testosterone (T). Indeed, their cognition is frequently characterized by hyper-systemizing, outperforming in tests that assess cognitive domains such as selective attention, and fine motor and visuospatial skills. In the general population, all these start to decline around the mid-forties. This study aimed to characterize whether middle-aged women who are biological mothers of individuals with ASD had better performance in the aforementioned cognitive skills than mothers of normative children (in both groups n = 22; mean age = 45), using the standardized Stroop and mirror-drawing tests. We also examined the role of T in their performance in the aforementioned tests. ASD mothers outperformed controls in both tests, giving more correct answers and making fewer mistakes. In addition, they presented higher T levels, which have been associated with better cognitive performance. Cognitive decline in specific skills with aging could be delayed in these middle-aged women, corresponding to a cognitive endophenotype, T playing an important role in this process.

PMID: 26694433 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Autism spectrum disorder in tuberous sclerosis complex: searching for risk markers.

July 7, 2016 - 7:16am
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Autism spectrum disorder in tuberous sclerosis complex: searching for risk markers.

Orphanet J Rare Dis. 2015;10:154

Authors: Vignoli A, La Briola F, Peron A, Turner K, Vannicola C, Saccani M, Magnaghi E, Scornavacca GF, Canevini MP

Abstract
BACKGROUND: Neuropsychiatric disorders are present in up to 90% of patients with Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC), and represent an important issue for families. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is the most common neurobehavioral disease, affecting up to 61% of patients. The aims of this study were: 1) to assess the prevalence of ASD in a TSC population; 2) to describe the severity of ASD; 3) to identify potential risk factors associated with the development of ASD in TSC patients.
METHODS: We selected 42 individuals over age 4 years with a definite diagnosis of TSC and followed at a TSC clinic in Northern Italy. We collected and reported clinical and genetic data, as well as cognitive level, for each of them. We administered the Social Communication Questionnaire (SCQ) as a reliable screening tool for ASD, and performed comparisons between the average scores and each clinical and genetic feature.
RESULTS: Seventeen out of 42 patients (40.5%) had a score at the SCQ suggestive of ASD (≥15 points). When calculated for each cognitive level category, the average SCQ score tended to be progressively higher in patients with a worse cognitive level, and the number of pathological SCQ scores increased with worsening of intellectual disability. With respect to ASD severity, the scores were equally distributed, indicating that the degree of ASD in TSC patients may have a large variability. By comparing the average SCQ scores with the clinical features, we found statistically significant correlations with epilepsy, seizure onset before age one year, spasms, mutations in TSC2, cognitive level, sleep disorders, and other psychiatric problems, but not with seizure frequency, tubers localization and gender.
CONCLUSIONS: Our study showed a prevalence of ASD of 40.5%, confirming the higher risk for this disorder in patients with TSC. However, the severity seems to have a notable variability in TSC patients. Risk factors for ASD are epilepsy, infantile spams, and mutations in TSC2.

PMID: 26631248 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Post-transcriptional regulation of SHANK3 expression by microRNAs related to multiple neuropsychiatric disorders.

July 7, 2016 - 7:16am
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Post-transcriptional regulation of SHANK3 expression by microRNAs related to multiple neuropsychiatric disorders.

Mol Brain. 2015;8(1):74

Authors: Choi SY, Pang K, Kim JY, Ryu JR, Kang H, Liu Z, Kim WK, Sun W, Kim H, Han K

Abstract
BACKGROUND: Proper neuronal function requires tight control of gene dosage, and failure of this process underlies the pathogenesis of multiple neuropsychiatric disorders. The SHANK3 gene encoding core scaffolding proteins at glutamatergic postsynapse is a typical dosage-sensitive gene, both deletions and duplications of which are associated with Phelan-McDermid syndrome, autism spectrum disorders, bipolar disorder, intellectual disability, or schizophrenia. However, the regulatory mechanism of SHANK3 expression in neurons itself is poorly understood.
RESULTS: Here we show post-transcriptional regulation of SHANK3 expression by three microRNAs (miRNAs), miR-7, miR-34a, and miR-504. Notably, the expression profiles of these miRNAs were previously shown to be altered in some neuropsychiatric disorders which are also associated with SHANK3 dosage changes. These miRNAs regulated the expression of SHANK3 and other genes encoding actin-related proteins that interact with Shank3, through direct binding sites in the 3' untranslated region (UTR). Moreover, overexpression or inhibition of miR-7 and miR-504 affected the dendritic spines of the cultured hippocampal neurons in a Shank3-dependent manner. We further characterized miR-504 as it showed the most significant effect on both SHANK3 expression and dendritic spines among the three miRNAs. Lentivirus-mediated overexpression of miR-504, which mimics its reported expression change in postmortem brain tissues of bipolar disorder, decreased endogenous Shank3 protein in cultured hippocampal neurons. We also revealed that miR-504 is expressed in the cortical and hippocampal regions of human and mouse brains.
CONCLUSIONS: Our study provides new insight into the miRNA-mediated regulation of SHANK3 expression, and its potential implication in multiple neuropsychiatric disorders associated with altered SHANK3 and miRNA expression profiles.

PMID: 26572867 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Understanding the molecular basis of autism in a dish using hiPSCs-derived neurons from ASD patients.

July 7, 2016 - 7:16am
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Understanding the molecular basis of autism in a dish using hiPSCs-derived neurons from ASD patients.

Mol Brain. 2015;8(1):57

Authors: Lim CS, Yang JE, Lee YK, Lee K, Lee JA, Kaang BK

Abstract
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in social cognition, language development, and repetitive/restricted behaviors. Due to the complexity and heterogeneity of ASD and lack of a proper human cellular model system, the pathophysiological mechanism of ASD during the developmental process is largely unknown. However, recent progress in induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology as well as in vitro neural differentiation techniques have allowed us to functionally characterize neurons and analyze cortical development during neural differentiation. These technical advances will increase our understanding of the pathogenic mechanisms of heterogeneous ASD and help identify molecular biomarkers for patient stratification as well as personalized medicine. In this review, we summarize our current knowledge of iPSC generation, differentiation of specific neuronal subtypes from iPSCs, and phenotypic characterizations of human ASD patient-derived iPSC models. Finally, we discuss the current limitations of iPSC technology and future directions of ASD pathophysiology studies using iPSCs.

PMID: 26419846 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

IRSp53/BAIAP2 in dendritic spine development, NMDA receptor regulation, and psychiatric disorders.

July 7, 2016 - 7:16am
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IRSp53/BAIAP2 in dendritic spine development, NMDA receptor regulation, and psychiatric disorders.

Neuropharmacology. 2016 Jan;100:27-39

Authors: Kang J, Park H, Kim E

Abstract
IRSp53 (also known as BAIAP2) is a multi-domain scaffolding and adaptor protein that has been implicated in the regulation of membrane and actin dynamics at subcellular structures, including filopodia and lamellipodia. Accumulating evidence indicates that IRSp53 is an abundant component of the postsynaptic density at excitatory synapses and an important regulator of actin-rich dendritic spines. In addition, IRSp53 has been implicated in diverse psychiatric disorders, including autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia, and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Mice lacking IRSp53 display enhanced NMDA (N-methyl-d-aspartate) receptor function accompanied by social and cognitive deficits, which are reversed by pharmacological suppression of NMDA receptor function. These results suggest the hypothesis that defective actin/membrane modulation in IRSp53-deficient dendritic spines may lead to social and cognitive deficits through NMDA receptor dysfunction. This article is part of the Special Issue entitled 'Synaptopathy--from Biology to Therapy'.

PMID: 26275848 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Prioritizing the development of mouse models for childhood brain disorders.

July 7, 2016 - 7:16am
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Prioritizing the development of mouse models for childhood brain disorders.

Neuropharmacology. 2016 Jan;100:2-16

Authors: Ogden KK, Ozkan ED, Rumbaugh G

Abstract
Mutations in hundreds of genes contribute to cognitive and behavioral dysfunction associated with developmental brain disorders (DBDs). Due to the sheer number of risk factors available for study combined with the cost of developing new animal models, it remains an open question how genes should be prioritized for in-depth neurobiological investigations. Recent reviews have argued that priority should be given to frequently mutated genes commonly found in sporadic DBD patients. Intrigued by this idea, we explored to what extent "high priority" risk factors have been studied in animals in an effort to assess their potential for generating valuable preclinical models capable of advancing the neurobiological understanding of DBDs. We found that in-depth whole animal studies are lacking for many high priority genes, with relatively few neurobiological studies performed in construct valid animal models aimed at understanding the pathological substrates associated with disease phenotypes. However, some high priority risk factors have been extensively studied in animal models and they have generated novel insights into DBD patho-neurobiology while also advancing early pre-clinical therapeutic treatment strategies. We suggest that prioritizing model development toward genes frequently mutated in non-specific DBD populations will accelerate the understanding of DBD patho-neurobiology and drive novel therapeutic strategies. This article is part of the Special Issue entitled 'Synaptopathy--from Biology to Therapy'.

PMID: 26231830 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Modulation of schizophrenia-related genes in the forebrain of adolescent and adult rats exposed to maternal immune activation.

July 7, 2016 - 7:16am
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Modulation of schizophrenia-related genes in the forebrain of adolescent and adult rats exposed to maternal immune activation.

Schizophr Res. 2015 Oct;168(1-2):411-20

Authors: Hemmerle AM, Ahlbrand R, Bronson SL, Lundgren KH, Richtand NM, Seroogy KB

Abstract
Maternal immune activation (MIA) is an environmental risk factor for schizophrenia, and may contribute to other developmental disorders including autism and epilepsy. Activation of pro-inflammatory cytokine systems by injection of the synthetic double-stranded RNA polyriboinosinic-polyribocytidilic acid (Poly I:C) mediates important neurochemical and behavioral corollaries of MIA, which have relevance to deficits observed in schizophrenia. We examined the consequences of MIA on forebrain expression of neuregulin-1 (NRG-1), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and their receptors, ErbB4 and trkB, respectively, genes associated with schizophrenia. On gestational day 14, pregnant rats were injected with Poly I:C or vehicle. Utilizing in situ hybridization, expression of NRG-1, ErbB4, BDNF, and trkB was examined in male rat offspring at postnatal day (P) 14, P30 and P60. ErbB4 mRNA expression was significantly increased at P30 in the anterior cingulate (AC Ctx), frontal, and parietal cortices, with increases in AC Ctx expression continuing through P60. ErbB4 expression was also elevated in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) at P14. In contrast, NRG-1 mRNA was decreased in the PFC at P60. Expression of BDNF mRNA was significantly upregulated in the PFC at P60 and decreased in the AC Ctx at P14. Expression of trkB was increased in two regions, the piriform cortex at P14 and the striatum at P60. These findings demonstrate developmentally and regionally selective alterations in the expression of schizophrenia-related genes as a consequence of MIA. Further study is needed to determine contributions of these effects to the development of alterations of relevance to neuropsychiatric diseases.

PMID: 26206493 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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