Project Detail
Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) logo
Office of Autism Research Coordination (OARC) logo

Animal models of autism: Pathogenesis and treatment  

Mutations in the neuroligin gene have been implicated in a subset of autism cases. Neuroligin is a cell-adhesion molecule found at synapses, which are connection points between neurons. Neuroligin molecules form a bridge across these synaptic connections by binding to a molecule called neurexin. Thus, mutations in neuroligin could disrupt neural connectivity. This research project will introduce the autism-related neuroligin mutation in mice. Experiments will test these mice for behavioral and neural abnormalities that may be related to autism. Preliminary data suggest that these mice exhibit specific deficits in social interaction, yet also exceed normal mice on one measure of learning and memory function. In addition to behavioral analyses, the project will also assess neural function in these mice, particularly at the level of the synapse. These studies will create a novel animal model of autism based on known human genetic causes of the disorder. Discovering how this genetic abnormality leads to changes in the biology (that result in the behavioral symptoms in this model) can identify potential new targets for disease treatment. Project Status


Funder Autism Speaks
Fiscal Year Funding $100,000.00
Project Number 2126
Principal Investigator Powell, Craig
Received ARRA Funding? No
Strategic Plan Question Question 4: Which Treatments And Interventions Will Help? (Interventions)
Strategic Plan Objective Green dot: Objective has greater than or equal to the recommended funding. 4SB. Standardize and validate at least 20 model systems (e.g., cellular and/or animal) that replicate features of ASD and will allow identification of specific molecular targets or neural circuits amenable to existing or new interventions by 2012. IACC Recommended Budget: $75,000,000 over 5 years.
Federal or Private? Private
Institution University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
State/Country Texas
Web Link 1 Animal models of autism: Pathogenesis and treatment (External web link)
Web Link 2 No URL available.
Web Link 3 No URL available.
History/Related Projects Animal models of autism: Pathogenesis and treatment | $84,999.00 | 2010 | 2126
Animal models of autism: Pathogenesis and treatment | $100,000.00 | 2008 | 2126
Animal models of autism: Pathogenesis and treatment | $0.00 | 2011 | 2126