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Studying Autism Genetic Networks by System biology methods

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Posted at 2014-2-24 16:09:58 | All floors |Read mode
Autism is a heterogeneous syndrome, which is agood model for neurogenesis study, can be defined by impairments in3 core domains: social interaction, language and range of interest. The prevalence is 1:300 (2005).
Recent studies show that large amount of denovo mutations are related to autism, including single nucleotide variation (SNV)and copy number variation (CNV). Chromosomal abnormality and environmentfactors are also contributors to the disease. However, these mutations arescattered among individuals due to small groups of volunteers in the studies.Therefore, we need to build a network containing these candidates by systembiology methods to further study how genes and proteins interact in differentsignal pathways.
In the figure below, genetic and environmentalfactors are considered as inputs. A network can be built containing all the genesand proteins that had been reported so far. Specific nodes that play importantroles in the network are expected to get. Moreover, different signal pathwaysshould emerge.
For an instance, Neuroligin/PSD-95/GKAP/SHANKis reported as an important pathway in post synaptic signal transduction. Assuch, we can classify the pathways that are responsible for similar biological functioninto same module. And different modules take responsibility for differentneuronal functions, such as neurogenesis, neuronal migration and synapticplasticity. In this part, we can use molecular biology methods to proof mutationsof certain genes, protein and changes pathways lead to certain changes inbiological functions.
In the last part, we can use autism diseasemouse model to further proof the genetic mutation can actually cause behavioralchanges of the animals.
To sum up,
1.    We get a good network for neurogenesis studyusing autism as a disease model.
2.    Unveiling the genetic mechanism of autism.[img=0,1]file:///C:\Users\Administrator\AppData\Roaming\Tencent\Users\385294061\QQ\WinTemp\RichOle\G3M8XLOPGIF1O8JT9%]([[7.jpg[/img]
3.    Classify different signal pathways with theirfunctions as modules.
4.    Quantizing the impact of chromosomal abnormalityand environmental factors in autism.
5.    Predict and prevention of autism by geneticmarkers, eg: genetic counseling.

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Posted at 2014-2-26 22:03:03 | All floors
I'm more interested in the epigeneitc part of the neuron networks, since we knew that brain development are highly plastic. Recently, there is a research showed that a drug restore the plasticity of neurons enables adult to learn perfect pitch -- something only child can learn previously. ... pop-a-pill-for-that
I'm wondering if these kinds of drugs are also applicable to autism?
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