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

Perturbed activity-dependent plasticity mechanisms in autism  

The researchers plan to study synapse formation in neurons deficient for autism-associated genes, including members of the Shank, neurexin, and neuregulin families, specifically looking for defects in the activity-dependent final steps. Using a combination of optics and chemistry, the researchers plan to carefully control the release of the neurotransmitter glutamate sensed by a dendritic spine. This technique will mimic the release of glutamate from the axon and trigger the electrochemical pulses that would normally be induced in the spine. The researchers then plan to look for changes in the number of synapses and in the morphology and composition of the dendritic spines. Based on their hypothesis that autism-related proteins assist in synapse formation, the researchers expect that loss of the proteins will cause consistent defects in these structures and in their signaling strength, which may underlie the learning and social impairments seen in people with autism. Project Status


Funder Simons Foundation
Fiscal Year Funding $301,444.00
Project Number 94333
Principal Investigator Sabatini, Bernardo
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 Harvard Medical School
State/Country Massachusetts
Web Link 1 Perturbed activity-dependent plasticity mechanisms in autism (External web link)
Web Link 2 No URL available.
Web Link 3 No URL available.
History/Related Projects Perturbed activity-dependent plasticity mechanisms in autism | $311,292.00 | 2010 | 94333
Perturbed activity-dependent plasticity mechanisms in autism | $158,034.00 | 2011 | 94333