Navigation Links
Researchers reveal structure of protein altered in autism

As a result of mapping the structure of the protein complex implicated in autism spectrum disorders, a research team led by scientists at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences has discovered how particular genetic mutations affect this complex and contribute to the developmental abnormalities found in children with autism. Their work, published as the cover article in the June issue of the journal Structure, should help scientists pinpoint the consequences of other genetic abnormalities associated with the disorder.

“By understanding the three-dimensional structure of the normal protein, researchers can now make predictions about how mutations in the gene affect the structure of the gene product,” said first author Davide Comoletti, Ph.D., UCSD research associate at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy.

Autism spectrum disorders are developmental disabilities that cause impairments in social interaction and communication. Both children and adults with autism typically show difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, interpersonal relationships, and leisure or play activities.

Comoletti and colleagues studied the neuroligin family of proteins that are encoded by genes known to be mutated in certain patients with autism. The neuroligins, and their partner proteins, the neurexins, are involved in the junctions, or synapses, through which cells of the nervous system signal to one another and to non-neuronal tissues such as muscle. These structural studies on neuroligins and neurexins represent a major step toward defining the synaptic organization at the molecular level.

“Normally, individual neuroligins are encoded to interact with specific neurexin partners. The two partners are members of distinct families of proteins involved in synaptic adhesions, imparting ‘stickiness’ that enables them to associate so that synapses form and have the capacity for neurotransm ission,” said Palmer Taylor, Ph.D., Dean of the Skaggs School, Sandra & Monroe Trout Professor of Pharmacology, and co-principal investigator of the study, along with Jill Trewhella, Ph.D., of the University of Sydney, Australia and University of Utah.

Incorrect partnering that results when a mutant neuroligin fails to properly align at synapses helps explain why the autism spectrum disorders are manifested in subtle behavioral abnormalities that are seen at an early age.

“Abnormal synaptic development in nerve connections is likely to lead to cognitive deficits seen in patients with autism,” said Taylor. He added that synapse formation and maintenance occurs early in development when the infant brain is still plastic and formative. Therefore, by understanding the structural mutations that affect neurotransmission during development, new leads into drug therapies may emerge.

“We really don’t know what causes autism, but this research represents a solid starting point,” said Sarah Dunsmore, Ph.D., program director with the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health, which partly supported the study. “The work suggests that genetic mutations that alter the shape or folding of adhesion proteins in the nervous system influence their interactions. This is another example of how research on basic biological questions, such as the three-dimensional structures of proteins in the brain, can yield valuable medical insights.”

Taylor and colleagues have been studying the structure and function of acetylcholinesterase – a structurally related protein that mediates neurotransmission between nerves and between nerve and muscle – for the past 30 years. They began studying the neuroligins because of the similarity in structure and amino acid sequence with acetylcholinesterase.
'"/>

Source:University of California - San Diego


Related biology news :

1. Researchers discover way to make cells in the eye sensitive to light
2. Researchers find how protein allows insects to detect and respond to pheromones
3. Researchers Uncover Key Step In Manufacture of Memory Protein
4. Researchers reveal the infectious impact of salmon farms on wild salmon
5. Researchers identify target for cancer drugs
6. Researchers discover molecule that causes secondary stroke
7. Researchers find missing genes of ancient organism
8. Researchers trace evolution to relatively simple genetic changes
9. Researchers add new tool to tumor-treatment arsenal
10. UF Researchers Map Bacterial Proteins That Cause Tooth Loss
11. VCU Researchers Identify Networks Of Genes Responding To Alcohol In The Brain

Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:6/30/2017)... Today, American Trucking Associations announced Seeing ... and eye tracking software, became the newest member ... "Artificial intelligence and advanced sensing algorithms ... driver,s attentiveness levels while on the road.  Drivers ... fatigue and prevent potential accidents, which could lead ...
(Date:5/16/2017)... -- Veratad Technologies, LLC ( www.veratad.com ), an innovative and ... solutions, announced today they will participate as a sponsor ... May 17, 2017, in Washington D.C.,s ... Identity impacts the lives of billions of ... digital world, defining identity is critical to nearly every ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... , April 19, 2017 ... its vendor landscape is marked by the presence of ... is however held by five major players - 3M ... these companies accounted for nearly 61% of the global ... leading companies in the global military biometrics market boast ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:8/15/2017)... ... 2017 , ... The Conference Forum and The Trout Group ... series of upcoming panels and events. The partnership culminates with the 4th Annual ... New York City. , “With our experience in producing the Immuno-Oncology 360° NYC event ...
(Date:8/14/2017)... ... August 14, 2017 , ... Opal Kelly, ... USB or PCI Express, announced the release of SYZYGY™, a new open standard ... the need for a compact, low cost, low pin-count, high-performance connectivity solution between ...
(Date:8/11/2017)... ... August 11, 2017 , ... Algenist continues to disrupt the skincare industry ... never before. , Collagen is the key structural element skin needs to maintain ... which include: , First to market with proprietary collagen ...
(Date:8/10/2017)... ... August 09, 2017 , ... The era ... clinic is here. The team at Capricor Therapeutics, Inc. utilized a cardiosphere-derived stem-like ... studies. , Dr. Travis Antes, head of analytical development at Capricor Therapeutics ...
Breaking Biology Technology: