Project Detail
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Systematic analysis of neural circuitry in mouse models of autism  

Recent studies have implicated a growing number of genes in the development of autism, but the candidates form a motley collection. Understanding what these genes have in common and how they relate to clinical findings in children with autism will shed light on the biological mechanisms underlying the disorder. Pavel Osten, of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and his colleagues hypothesize that various genetic mutations result in more homogeneous core dysfunctions of neural circuitry responsible for the disorder's clinical features, such as deficient language skills, impaired social interaction and restricted interests. The researchers are thus searching for causal links between genetic variants and neural circuit malfunctions in mouse models of autism. Osten's team plans to systematically screen neural circuits in the brains of 'indicator' mice, in which genes representative of neural activity — such as c-Fos and Arc — are tagged with a green fluorescent protein. A custom-built microscope will be used to capture three-dimensional images of whole mouse brains. The researchers will then use the images to screen and compare neural circuits — indicated by the green-lit areas — in autism model mice and their normal counterparts. Osten and his team say that screening neural circuit activity in mice with various genetic mutations will allow them to identify the deficits common to these mice — and thus the brain regions that are affected by the core traits of autism. If successful, their work could help classify autism spectrum disorders based on the underlying damaged neural circuits, and certain circuits could be targets for new therapies. Osten and colleagues also hope to facilitate future mouse model work by helping the autism research community to focus attention on the most promising areas of the brain. Project Status


Funder Simons Foundation
Fiscal Year Funding $149,972.50
Current Award Period 2009-2011
Project Number 137480
Principal Investigator Osten, Pavel
Received ARRA Funding? No
Strategic Plan Question Question 4: Which Treatments And Interventions Will Help? (Treatments)
Subcategory Model Systems/Therapeutic Targets
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 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
State/Country New York
Web Link 1 Systematic analysis of neural circuitry in mouse models of autism (External web link)
Web Link 2 No URL available.
Web Link 3 No URL available.
History/Related Projects Systematic analysis of neural circuitry in mouse models of autism | $75,431.50 | 2009 | 137480
Systematic analysis of neural circuitry in mouse models of autism | $74,991.00 | 2011 | 137480