A gene defect has been shown to influence the way neurons communicate and connect with each other in the human brain, as per a recent study from the Washington University School of Medicine.
The genes were validated in rodents and researchers found an existing link between rodents lacking the gene due to too many interconnections between the brain neuronal regions, which trigger learning difficulties.
The findings were published during early November and suggest diversified symptoms of ASD disorder could actually stem from malfunctions arising in communications among the cells present in the human brain.
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Azad Bonni, senior author, says, “The present study may possibly help raise awareness about too many synapses in the regions of the brains of autistic individuals.”
Azad Bonni heads the Department of Neuroscience at the Washington University School in St. Louis.
Bonni further adds, “One may think having a greater number of synapses in the brain would make it work better, but in reality, it is not the case.” He further says, “An increase in the number of synapses is seen to create greater miscommunication among the neurons present in a developing brain.”
This is seen to directly correlate with learning impairments.
Autism is a developmental disorder that affects one in every 68 children in the USA alone. It is further characterized by communication and social challenges.
Out of the genetic database, six particular genes that are linked to autism are observed to have a molecular tag known as ubiquitin.
Further, these sets of genes, also known as ubiquitin ligases, are seen to function uniquely. The ligases are seen to regulate the rest of the cell behavior while dealing with tagged proteins.
Autistic patients have been shown to carry mutational genes that prevent the ubiquitin genes to perform in the right manner. But the effects of tagging proteins and the reasons behind it leading to autism have not been completely understood.
Dr. Pamela and Bonni removed the RNF8 in the neuronal regions in young mice to understand the key regions of the brain that are affected by the disorder.
Bonni further explains, “It is quite possible that excessive connections present between the neurons are responsible for contributing to autism.”
The authors sign off by highlighting, “More work regarding the subject of understanding brain connections is required and needs to be prioritized.
If this hypothesis is verified and validated we need to start looking at ways to control the synapse numbers, which could benefit everyone as a whole.”