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

A proposal to define cells and circuits impacted in autism spectrum disorders  

Although researchers have identified several genes that contribute to autism, there has been little progress in pinpointing the brain cell types and circuits that are affected by mutations in these genes. Nathaniel Heintz, Paul Greengard, and their colleagues are testing a hypothesis that they can identify cells preferentially affected by mutations in autism-linked genes by analyzing their molecular profiles in mouse models of autism. The researchers previously developed a new approach to molecular profiling, called "translating ribosome affinity purification," or TRAP. The technique allows messenger RNA molecules to be captured in the process of being translated into proteins, yielding a global snapshot of the proteins that are being expressed in a given cell type. The team plans to use TRAP to identify changes in the protein profiles of brain cells in mice with one of three mutations in SHANK3, a gene that has been linked to autism in people. The researchers then plan to compare how the different mutations affect protein expression among the different cell types, including neurons from the frontal cortex, striatum and cerebellum areas of the brain. Project Status


Funder Simons Foundation
Fiscal Year Funding $162,544.25
Project Number 137830
Principal Investigator Heintz, Nathaniel
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 The Rockefeller University
State/Country New York
Web Link 1 A proposal to define cells and circuits impacted in autism spectrum disorders (External web link)
Web Link 2 No URL available.
Web Link 3 No URL available.
History/Related Projects N/A