• Autism spectrum disorder traits in SLC9A9 knock-out mice

      Faraone, Stephen; Yang, Lina (2014)
      utism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of neurodevelopmental disorders which begin in childhood and persist into adulthood. They cause lifelong impairments and are associated with substantial burdens to patients, families and society. Genetic studies have implicated the sodium/proton exchanger (NHE) nine gene, SLC9A9, to ASDs and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). SLC9A9 encodes, NHE9, a membrane protein of the late recycling endosomes. The recycling endosome plays an important role in synapse development and plasticity by regulating the trafficking of membrane neurotransmitter receptors and transporters. Here we tested the hypothesis thatSLC9A9 knock-out (KO) mice would show ADHD-like and ASD-like traits. Ultrasonic vocalization recording showed that SLC9A9 KO mice emitted fewer calls and had shorter call durations, which suggest communication impairment. SLC9A9 KO mice lacked a preference for social novelty, but did not show deficits in social approach; SLC9A9 KO mice spent more time self-grooming, an indicator for restricted and repetitive behavior. We did not observe hyperactivity or other behavior impairments which are commonly comorbid with ASDs in human, such as anxiety-like behavior. Our study is the first animal behavior study that links SLC9A9 to ASDs. By eliminating NHE9 activity, it provides strong evidence that lack of SLC9A9 leads to ASD-like behaviors in mice and provides the field with a new mouse model of ASDs.
    • RELN AS A CANDIDATE GENE FOR AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER (ASD)

      Howell, Brian; Lammert, Dawn (2017)
      Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects approximately 1 in 45 people, and is characterized by deficits in social communication and repetitive behaviors. Sequencing advancements have enabled the identification of numerous candidate genes, but precisely how these genes contribute to ASD remains largely unknown. RELNis consistently implicated as a candidate gene for autism. The encoded secreted glycoprotein, Reelin is important for proper brain developmental and postnatal synapse function. Here we examine the molecular and cellular consequences of the de novo RELNmutation R2290C. This mutation falls in a conserved arginine-amino acid-arginine (RXR) motif that is found within the Reelin subrepeat structure. Several other ASD patient mutations fall with in this consensus and all examined reduce Reelin secretion. Based on this we tested two hypothesis: (1) that the mutations reduce Reelin signaling and (2) that they have a gain-of-function consequence, such as ER stress. Using an engineered cell line with a heterozygous RELNR2290C mutation and the RELN Orleans (Orl) mouse line that produces nearly full length Reelin that is defective for secretion, we found evidence for both increased Dab1 and increased PDIA1 expression. Since, like most genes implicated in ASD RELNlikely acts in a multifactorial manner, we investigated whether second site mutations might contribute to ASD-related behaviors. Towards this end we crossed the heterozygous Orl and Shank3b mice to model two hits that are present in at least one ASD proband. We found that the resulting double heterozygousmice had impaired socialization and altered ultrasonic vocalizations. Furthermore, forebrain and cerebellar lysates showed increased PSD-95, identifying a potentially common mechanism and therapeutic target for ASD. These studies are the first to investigate the biological relevance of RELNcoding mutations in ASD.