Community Newsletter: Sex bias; synapse formation; gene convergence | Spectrum

Illustration by Laurenne Boglio

Three new threads on autism research snagged a multitude of congratulatory tweets this week. Let’s dive right in!

A 16-part thread, from Alessandro Gozzi, senior scientist at the Italian Institute of Technology in Rovereto, Italy, describes a mechanism behind autism’s sex bias, presented in a preprint by his team posted on bioRxiv this month. “Here we investigated a well-known autism-risk gene called Ube3A,” he tweeted to kick the thread off.

“Our data suggest that Ube3a overdose may contribute to sex-bias in neurodevelopmental conditions via influence on sex-differential mechanisms,” Gozzi concluded.

Thomas Nickl-Jockschat, associate professor of psychiatry at University of Iowa in Iowa City, called the results exciting and thanked Gozzi “for letting me be a part of this collaboration.

“Great thread and fantastic work!” tweeted Veera Rajagopal, a scientist at the biotechnology company Regeneron Pharmaceuticals in Tarrytown, New York.

Another multi-part thread started with a question: “Are all synapses created equal?” asked Oscar Marín, professor of neuroscience at the Center for Developmental Neurobiology of Kings College London in the United Kingdom.

“We approached this question by investigating the wiring of PV+ and SST+ interneurons in the mouse neocortex,” Marín’s tweetstorm continued, explaining his research on parvalbumin and somatostatin cells that appeared in Science on 25 November.

Marín summarized the results, tweeting, “Local protein translation is regulated at the level of specific connections to control synapse formation in the nervous system.”

Clémence Bernard, a research associate in Marín’s lab, shared an illustrated “recap of the conclusions of the paper by the multitalented @brainotopia.”

“Excitatory synapses arising from the same presynaptic neuron on sst INs and pv INs have different properties. Now we know how!!!” tweeted Jai Polepalli, assistant professor of anatomy at the National University of Singapore.

Liset M de la Prida, director of the Laboratorio de Circuitos Neuronales at the Instituto Cajal in Madrid, Spain, wondered “whether Similar mechs are at play in the dorsal CA1 hippocampus, where PV+ and SST+ interneurons connect differently with deep and superficial pyramidal cells.”

Other scientists on Twitter lauded another autism-linked study, published 22 November in Cell Reports. Nadeem Murtaza, a postdoctoral researcher at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, who led the work, “used proteomics to screen 41 autism risk genesfinding convergence between the genes,” tweeted Karun Singh, associate professor of biochemistry and biomedical sciences at the university and Murtaza’s adviser.

“Very impressive paper … on protein-protein interaction networks for 41 autism-linked proteins showing (among many other things!) that #mitochondria are a common feature,” tweeted Julien Courchet, a researcher at Institut NeuroMyoGene in Lyon, France.

That’s it for this week’s Community Newsletter! If you have any suggestions for interesting social posts you saw in the autism research sphere, feel free to send an email to [email protected].

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