Autism Spectrum disorders (ASD) still do not have unifying etiology. Current studies are showing that mechanisms of ASD are linked to a complex of interconnected epigenetic and genetic factors that change the dynamics of organism development. Our group together with Dr. Tsygelny from UCSD has been involved in the studies of such inter-players responsible for ASD- a pair of proteins neuroligin-neurexin and others.
In this Driving Project genome-wide association studies of more than 400 unrelated ASD patients showing changes in various regions of human chromosomes related to ASD was used to analyze hierarchical clusters of small number of ASD related genes and transcription factors working on each stage of brain development. It was shown that the genetic controls of brain development are significantly different from such controls in other organs development.
Thus, elucidation of possible mechanisms of ASD with recommendation for cures has to be addressed using a multi-level strategy that will show corresponding changes in parameters on different levels during the brain development.