Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Variant of MET Gene Linked to Increased Risk of Autism

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Variant of MET Gene Linked to Increased Risk of Autism

Article excerpt

Researchers have discovered that a common genetic variant of the MET receptor tyrosine kinase on chromosome 7q31 is associated with a 2.27-fold risk of having autism.

This new finding corroborates other works in autism which "indicate altered organization of both the cerebral cortex and the cerebellum, both of which are disrupted in mice with decreased MET signaling activity," wrote the investigators, who were led by Daniel B. Campbell, Ph.D., of the department of pharmacology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.

"There is co-occurrence of autism with a number of neurological and cognitive disorders, including epilepsy, atypical sleep patterns, and mental retardation. Together with well known dysfunction of cortical information processing, the role of MET signaling in interneuron development is relevant as a central component of the hypothesized GABAergic pathophysiological changes in autism," Dr. Campbell and his associates said.

The MET gene, which is known for its role in cancer metastasis, is also involved in the regulation of the immune system and in gastrointestinal repair, the investigators said.

The researchers conducted genetic analysis of 743 families who had at least one child with autism (Proc. …

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