Tag Archives: protein

Autism – nature PLUS nurture?

‘A new study is offering a clue into the origins of the disorder by finding a single dysfunctional protein may be responsible for coordinating expression in all the genes that result in autism susceptibility.’

I took that quote from an article on autism research published by New Atlas. I strongly recommend reading the entire article but the gist is that:

  1. Researchers have found hundreds of genes implicated in the Autism Disorder spectrum, not just one ‘master’ gene.
  2. These genes are like switches that can be turned on or off.
  3. While these genes are ‘off’, the person may have a tendency towards autism, but they will not be autistic – i.e. there will be no symptoms of autism.
  4. There is a protein called CPEB4 which ‘…is vital in embryonic development, assisting with neuroplasticity and helping regulate the expression of certain genes during fetal brain development.’ In other words, this is a good protein.
  5. In mouse models, not enough of this protein leads to brain structures and behaviours that are characteristic of autism. In other words, the lack of this protein causes those autism-related genes to be switched on and the result is Autism-like behaviour.

Now, mouse models are just an approximation of the human condition, but they do lend support to the idea that autism is not just a genetic condition/disorder. Instead, it may well be a case of environment acting on an underlying pre-disposition. And if that is the case, then maybe one day we’ll be able to keep those Autism related genes switched off.

Have a great weekend,

Meeks

 


DNA snippets for virus communications

Some of the greatest scientific discoveries have been accidental. To that list, Israeli scientists have added one more. They’ve discovered for the first time an instance of viruses leaving messages for other viruses. What makes the discovery remarkable is that scientists expect such communication systems to exist among other kinds of viruses. If true, we’ll…

via Scientists have caught viruses talking to each other—and that could be the key to a new age of anti-viral drugs — Quartz

This is quite astounding. Not quite the equivalent of dogs leaving scent markers so other dogs will know they’ve been there, but a form of communication nonetheless. From a virus. And there’s a good chance other viruses use a similar method to communicate as well. More amazing ‘accidents’. 😀


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