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

Using Drosophila to model the synaptic function of the autism-linked NHE9  

Pinpointing the specific molecular defects that cause autism is a key approach to developing appropriate treatments for the disorder. One way to uncover a disrupted molecular pathway is by identifying single-gene mutations that are associated with the disease, as has been done in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Littleton and his colleagues are applying the same approach to autism. The researchers are examining one pathway in particular — synapses — which is likely to be disrupted by at least one single-gene mutation carried by people with autism. Using a fruit fly model, the Littleton laboratory has shown that regulation of endosomes — enclosed 'sacs' that transport proteins within the cell — is crucial to synaptic development and flexibility. Littleton's group will use the well-established fruit fly model to examine whether — and if so, how — mutations in the NHE9 gene, which is mutated in some people with autism, disrupt endosomal function and thus prevent adequate transport of growth-promoting factors to synapses during neuronal development. Project Status


Funder Simons Foundation
Fiscal Year Funding $75,000.00
Project Number 137744
Principal Investigator Littleton, J. Troy
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 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
State/Country Massachusetts
Web Link 1 Using Drosophila to model the synaptic function of the autism-linked NHE9 (External web link)
Web Link 2 No URL available.
Web Link 3 No URL available.
New! History/Related Projects Using Drosophila to model the synaptic function of the autism-linked NHE9 | $150,000.00 | 2010 | 137744