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Genes

Rare or common, inherited or spontaneous, mutations form the core of autism risk.

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Moving target: Brain waves known as beta oscillations reflect brain activity that controls body movements and may signal telltale changes in DNA.AJPhoto / Science Source

Brain-wave patterns distinguish dup15q syndrome

by  /  13 January 2017
Children with an extra copy of the 15q11-13 chromosomal region, the second most common genetic abnormality in people with autism, have unusually strong brain waves called beta oscillations. The preliminary findings, presented Friday at the Dup15q Alliance Scientific Meeting in Orlando, Florida, suggest that beta oscillations could distinguish children with dup15q syndrome from those with other forms of autism.
News / Toolbox
Matrix method: A molecular map shows the connections between an autism-linked protein (red) and its partners. InBio Platform ™

Online atlas reveals huge array of protein connections

by  /  13 January 2017
A new web-based tool charts the myriad contacts among human proteins.
News
Chemical clues: Tags on proteins called histones (burgundy) that scaffold DNA (violet) may help researchers find an autism signature.

Autism brains bear telltale pattern of chemical tags

by  /  12 January 2017
The brains of many people with autism may exhibit a characteristic arrangement of chemical groups on the proteins that DNA coils around.
January 2017
Brain barrier: A mutation linked to autism prevents essential amino acids from entering the brain.
News

Rare form of autism linked to lack of key nutrient

by  /  5 January 2017

A mutation that prevents some amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, from entering the brain may lead to autism.

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December 2016
20160803-844-1
Features / Special Reports / 2016: Year in review

Spectrum of color: Our favorite photos from 2016

26 December 2016

Peruse our picks for the best science photos published on Spectrum this year.

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Heavy pill on scale
Features / Special Reports / 2016: Year in review

Hot topics of 2016

26 December 2016

These five trending topics hint at important discoveries to come.

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Illustration by Julia Yellow
News

Mutations in mitochondria genes may raise autism risk

by  /  22 December 2016

Some children with autism carry harmful mutations in the DNA found in mitochondria, the cell’s energy producers.

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Gene acrobatics: Detailing how DNA loops around protein can reveal roles for genetic variants that fall outside of genes.
News

Map of brain’s DNA loops holds clues to autism genetics

by  /  8 December 2016

A new chart of DNA’s three-dimensional structure reveals genomic regions that control distant genes during development.

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China syndrome: Researchers have sequenced  risk genes for autism in a group of people in the Shandong province.Jung-Pang Wu / Getty Images
News

Study in China solidifies list of genes tied to autism

by  /  1 December 2016

Harmful mutations in autism genes crop up in Chinese individuals about as often as they do in people of European ancestry.

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November 2016
Cells selected:  In this cross-section of a mouse brain, nerve fibers infected with a virus glow green.
News / Toolbox

By hacking cells’ DNA, virus traces brain activity patterns

by  /  25 November 2016

A mutant virus that infiltrates neurons and delivers genes to the nucleus can illuminate brain connections.

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Up close: Researchers can isolate and examine single neurons from the human nasal cavity.Lauren Shear / Science Source
News

New tool takes rapid genetic snapshot of people’s neurons

by  /  17 November 2016

A new approach quickly captures an individual’s gene expression pattern at the level of a single neuron.

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Critical period: When one eye of a typical young mouse is shut for a week, the brain’s visual region learns to compensate.Heidi and Hans-Juergen Koch / Minden Pictures
News

Gene on chromosome 16 may be valuable player in autism

by  /  17 November 2016

Deleting one copy of a gene called MVP impairs the brain's ability to adapt to changes in the environment.

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Ion effects: Mutations in a top autism candidate gene may lead to sluggish neurons early in development.
News

Sodium channel gene takes diverging paths in autism, epilepsy

by  /  16 November 2016

Mutations in a gene called SCN2A have opposite effects in autism and in epilepsy.

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