GEN Exclusives

More »

GEN News Highlights

More »
Jun 13, 2007

Autism Protein Structure Illuminates Disease Pathway

  • As a result of mapping the structure of the protein complex implicated in autism spectrum disorders, investigators discovered how particular genetic mutations affect this disease and contribute to the developmental abnormalities.

    Scientists at the University of California, San Diego, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences studied the neuroligin family of proteins that are encoded by genes known to be mutated in certain patients with autism.

    “Normally, individual neuroligins are encoded to interact with specific neurexin partners,” notes Palmer Taylor, Ph.D., dean of the Skaggs School, Sandra & Monroe Trout professor of pharmacology, and co-principal investigator of the study. “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 neurotransmission.”

    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, according to the research. The study is published in the June issue of Structure.


GEN Jobs powered by connects you directly to employers in pharma, biotech, and the life sciences. View 40 to 50 fresh job postings daily or search for employment opportunities including those in R&D, clinical research, QA/QC, biomanufacturing, and regulatory affairs.
More »

Be sure to take the GEN Poll

The Triple Package and Success

One theory for explaining “success," put forward by Amy Chua Jed Rubenfeld, posits cultural traits such as a superiority complex, personal insecurity and impulse control. Union College professors Joshua Hart and Christopher Chabris counter that intelligence, conscientiousness, and economic advantage are the most likely elements of success, regardless of ethnicity. Do you think that Hart-Chabris make a better argument for achieving success than the Chua-Rubenfeld theory?

More »