Dr. Evan Elliott – Gene network analysis reveals a role for striatal glutamatergic receptors in dysregulated riskassessment behavior of autism mouse models

Dr Evan Elliott

Abstract

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) presents a wide, and often varied, behavioral phenotype. Improper assessment of risks has been reported among individuals diagnosed with ASD. Improper assessment of risks may lead to increased accidents and self-injury, also reported among individuals diagnosed with ASD. However, there is little knowledge of the molecular underpinnings of the impaired risk-assessment phenotype. In this study, we have identified impaired risk-assessment activity in multiple male ASD mouse models. By performing network-based analysis of striatal whole transcriptome data from each of these ASD models, we have identified a cluster of glutamate receptor-associated genes that correlate with the risk-assessment phenotype. Furthermore, pharmacological inhibition of striatal glutamatergic receptors was able to mimic the dysregulation in risk-assessment. Therefore, this study has identified a molecular mechanism that may underlie risk-assessment dysregulation in ASD.

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