Monthly Archives: May 2016

Neuroscientists illuminate role of autism-linked gene

Loss of Shank gene prevents neuronal synapses from properly maturing. Source: [Anne Trafton | MIT News Office, May 24, 2016] A new study from MIT neuroscientists reveals that a gene mutation associated with autism plays a critical role in the formation and maturation of synapses — the connections that allow neurons […]

In the top image, a neuronal axon (green) forms many synapses, highlighted in purple. The bottom image shows an axon from a fruit fly lacking the Shank protein. In these flies, not as many synapses form, and some of them (indicated by the white arrows) do not fully mature.

Image courtesy of the researchers.