Decreased expression of axon-guidance receptors in the anterior cingulate cortex in autism

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Abstract

Background: Axon-guidance proteins play a crucial role in brain development. As the dysfunction of axon-guidance signaling is thought to underlie the microstructural abnormalities of the brain in people with autism, we examined the postmortem brains of people with autism to identify any changes in the expression of axon-guidance proteins. Results: The mRNA and protein expression of axon-guidance proteins, including ephrin (EFN)A4, eEFNB3, plexin (PLXN)A4, roundabout 2 (ROBO)2 and ROBO3, were examined in the anterior cingulate cortex and primary motor cortex of autistic brains (n = 8 and n = 7, respectively) and control brains (n = 13 and n = 8, respectively) using real-time reverse-transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR) and western blotting. Real-time RT-PCR revealed that the relative expression levels of EFNB3, PLXNA4A and ROBO2 were significantly lower in the autistic group than in the control group. The protein levels of these three genes were further analyzed by western blotting, which showed that the immunoreactive values for PLXNA4 and ROBO2, but not for EFNB3, were significantly reduced in the ACC of the autistic brains compared with control brains. Conclusions: In this study, we found decreased expression of axon-guidance proteins such as PLXNA4 and ROBO2 in the brains of people with autism, and suggest that dysfunctional axon-guidance protein expression may play an important role in the pathophysiology of autism. © 2011 Suda et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

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Suda, S., Iwata, K., Shimmura, C., Kameno, Y., Anitha, A., Thanseem, I., … Mori, N. (2011). Decreased expression of axon-guidance receptors in the anterior cingulate cortex in autism. Molecular Autism, 2(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/2040-2392-2-14

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