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

The functional link between DISC1 and neuroligins: Two genetic factors in the etiology of autism  

Autism is a severely debilitating neurodevelopmental inherited disorder. Autistic children have difficulty communicating, expressing needs, and interacting with others. They may be very resistant to change and prefer to be alone. Autism is considered the fastest growing developmental disorder in the United States affecting an estimated 1.5 million Americans. There is growing evidence of a biological link between autism and schizophrenia, which is also a neurodevelopmental disorder with genetic risk. Firstly, children with autism often have an additional psychiatric disorder including schizophrenia. Secondly, parents of children with autism are more likely to have psychiatric illness than parents of unaffected children. Finally, recent genetic studies have determined that multiple susceptibility genes (a functional unit of DNA) are shared between autism and schizophrenia. Together, these data suggest that there are common biological pathways affected in schizophrenia and autism resulting in disease. However, the biological link between schizophrenia and autism is unknown. Investigations into the common pathways shared by identified susceptibility genes may hold the key. The aim of this proposal is to establish a functional relationship within the cell between two genetic risks factors: NLGN and DISC1. Deciphering the relationship between these susceptibility genes may lead to the identification of potential therapeutic targets and biological predictors of outcome and co-morbidity. Project Status


Funder Department of Defense
Fiscal Year Funding $0.00
Current Award Period 2010-2012
Project Number AR093542
Principal Investigator DiDonato, Christine
Received ARRA Funding? No
Strategic Plan Question Question 2: How Can I Understand What Is Happening? (Biology)
Subcategory Molecular Pathways
Strategic Plan Objective Green dot: Objective has greater than or equal to the recommended funding. 2SD. Launch three studies that target improved understanding of the underlying biological pathways of genetic conditions related to autism (e.g. Fragile X, Rett syndrome, tuberous sclerosis complex) and how these conditions inform risk assessment and individualized intervention by 2012. IACC Recommended Budget: $9,000,000 over 5 years.
Federal or Private? Federal
Institution Children's Memorial Hospital, Chicago
State/Country Illinois
Web Link 1 The functional link between DISC1 and neuroligins: Two genetic factors in the etiology of autism (External web link)
Web Link 2 No URL available.
Web Link 3 No URL available.
New! History/Related Projects The functional link between DISC1 and neuroligins: Two genetic factors in the etiology of autism | $110,250.00 | 2009 | AR093542