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This breakthrough discovery will help develop new therapies for Autism, the most common neurological disorder that is estimated to adversely affect life of one in 160 children globally. Researchers have found a network of over 200 genes linked to autism. The experts say that these new genes were involved in controlling alternative splicing events that are often disrupted in autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
According to a recent media report, alternative splicing has been defined as a process that functionally diversifies protein molecules which are the cells' building blocks in brain and other body parts. In earlier studies, the researchers have already shown how disruption of this process is closely associated with altered brain wiring and behaviour that are widely found among those who are autistic.
"Our study has revealed a mechanism underlying the splicing of very short coding segments found in genes with genetic links to autism," reportedly said Benjamin Blencowe, Professor at the University of Toronto's Donnelly Centre. According to the media report, he added in the paper that has appeared in the journal Molecular Cell: "This new knowledge is providing insight into possible ways of targeting this mechanism for therapeutic applications."
In order to decode these genes in the most efficient way, the team of researchers made use of the gene editing tool CRISPR and removed each of the 20,000 genes in the genome of cultured brain cells to find out which ones are needed for microexon splicing, highlighted the media report. Following this they identified 233 genes, the diverse role of which indicates that microexons are controlled by a wide network of cellular components.
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