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Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC)
Autism Research Database
Office of Autism Research Coordination (OARC)
 
Project Element Element Description

Project Title

Project Title

Epigenetic DNA modifications in autistic spectrum disorders

Principal Investigator

Principal Investigator

Song, Hongjun

Description

Description

Autism spectrum disorders comprise a vast and heterogeneous collection of neurodevelopmental problems. For the majority of these disorders, there is no single genetic cause but instead a large number of risk factors associated with the likelihood of developing symptoms. A primary goal of autism researchers is to determine whether there is some common mechanism that can explain the emergence of the various behavioral and cognitive impairments. One possible mechanism is epigenetic DNA modification, a process that changes gene expression without altering the underlying DNA sequence. Importantly, this can occur in adult brain cells and can be ‘activity-dependent,’ that is, triggered by brain activity in response to experience. Such neural responses to changes in the environment are an essential component of adaptive brain function. Therefore, dysregulation of this capacity could lead to maladaptive behavior. Hongjun Song and his colleagues at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore propose to investigate the function of GADD45, a gene that has been implicated in activity-dependent epigenetic DNA modification and is abnormally expressed in some individuals with autism. To evaluate the gene’s role in autism, the researchers are planning a series of experiments using mice in which components of the GADD45 DNA modification pathway have been genetically altered. They plan to evaluate both gene expression and behavior in these mice. In addition, Song’s team plans to examine GADD45-associated gene expression and DNA modification in postmortem tissue from individuals with autism. Their experiments may provide new insight into the role of activity-dependent DNA modification in individuals with the disorder.

Funder

Funder

Simons Foundation

Fiscal Year Funding

Fiscal Year Funding

82002

Current Award Period

Current Award Period

2012-2014

Strategic Plan Question

Strategic Plan Question

Question 3: What Caused This To Happen And Can This Be Prevented?

Strategic Plan Objective

Strategic Plan Objective

Green dot: Objective has greater than or equal to the recommended funding. 3SJ. Support at least three studies that focus on the role of epigenetics in the etiology of ASD, including studies that include assays to measure DNA methylations and histone modifications and those exploring how exposures may act on maternal or paternal genomes via epigenetic mechanisms to alter gene expression, by 2012. IACC Recommended Budget: $20,000,000 over 5 years.

Project Link

Project Link

Epigenetic DNA modifications in autistic spectrum disorders (External web link)

Institution

Institution

Johns Hopkins University

State/Country

State/Country

Maryland

Project Number

Project Number

240011

Federal or Private?

Federal or Private?

Private

Received ARRA Funding?

Received ARRA Funding?

No

History/Related Projects

History/Related Projects

Epigenetic DNA modifications in autistic spectrum disorders | 81811 | 2012 | 240011
Epigenetic DNA modifications in autistic spectrum disorders | 163813 | 2013 | 240011

 
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