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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Genetics: Methylation May Alter Levels of Autism Gene

The Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative

By Jessica Wright
January 24, 2014

Postmortem brains from people with autism have abnormal patterns of chemical tags on SHANK3, one of the strongest candidate genes for autism, according to a study published 23 November in Human Molecular Genetics (1).

Heat map: The cerebella of people
with autism show elevated methylation
in certain regions (red) of the SHANK3 gene.
These changes lead to differences in expression of the gene relative to controls, the study found. Specifically, the gene shows altered methylation, which influences gene expression without changing the underlying code. Brain methylation patterns change during an individual’s lifetime and may play a role in development.

Methylation may be a way by which the environment influences gene regulation.

Read the rest of the article HERE.


 Started in 2003, the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) is a discrete scientific research program within the Simons Foundation's overall suite of programs. SFARI's goal is to sponsor research that promises to increase our scientific understanding of autism spectrum disorders, thereby benefiting individuals and families challenged by these disorders.

With a budget of about $60 million per year, SFARI currently supports 175 investigators. Since 2007, this initiative has provided or committed more than $260 million in external research support to more than 250 investigators in the U.S. and abroad.

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