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      Association between SNAP-25 gene polymorphisms and cognition in autism: functional consequences and potential therapeutic strategies


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          Synaptosomal-associated protein of 25 kDa (SNAP-25) is involved in different neuropsychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Consistently, SNAP-25 polymorphisms in humans are associated with hyperactivity and/or with low cognitive scores. We analysed five SNAP-25 gene polymorphisms (rs363050, rs363039, rs363043, rs3746544 and rs1051312) in 46 autistic children trying to correlate them with Childhood Autism Rating Scale and electroencephalogram (EEG) abnormalities. The functional effects of rs363050 single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) on the gene transcriptional activity, by means of the luciferase reporter gene, were evaluated. To investigate the functional consequences that SNAP-25 reduction may have in children, the behaviour and EEG of SNAP-25 +/− adolescent mice (SNAP-25 +/+) were studied. Significant association of SNAP-25 polymorphism with decreasing cognitive scores was observed. Analysis of transcriptional activity revealed that SNP rs363050 encompasses a regulatory element, leading to protein expression decrease. Reduction of SNAP-25 levels in adolescent mice was associated with hyperactivity, cognitive and social impairment and an abnormal EEG, characterized by the occurrence of frequent spikes. Both EEG abnormalities and behavioural deficits were rescued by repeated exposure for 21 days to sodium salt valproate (VLP). A partial recovery of SNAP-25 expression content in SNAP-25 +/− hippocampi was also observed by means of western blotting. A reduced expression of SNAP-25 is responsible for the cognitive deficits in children affected by autism spectrum disorders, as presumably occurring in the presence of rs363050(G) allele, and for behavioural and EEG alterations in adolescent mice. VLP treatment could result in novel therapeutic strategies.

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          Membrane fusion: grappling with SNARE and SM proteins.

          The two universally required components of the intracellular membrane fusion machinery, SNARE and SM (Sec1/Munc18-like) proteins, play complementary roles in fusion. Vesicular and target membrane-localized SNARE proteins zipper up into an alpha-helical bundle that pulls the two membranes tightly together to exert the force required for fusion. SM proteins, shaped like clasps, bind to trans-SNARE complexes to direct their fusogenic action. Individual fusion reactions are executed by distinct combinations of SNARE and SM proteins to ensure specificity, and are controlled by regulators that embed the SM-SNARE fusion machinery into a physiological context. This regulation is spectacularly apparent in the exquisite speed and precision of synaptic exocytosis, where synaptotagmin (the calcium-ion sensor for fusion) cooperates with complexin (the clamp activator) to control the precisely timed release of neurotransmitters that initiates synaptic transmission and underlies brain function.
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            Molecular genetics of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

            Results of behavioral genetic and molecular genetic studies have converged to suggest that both genetic and nongenetic factors contribute to the development of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). We review this literature, with a particular emphasis on molecular genetic studies. Family, twin, and adoption studies provide compelling evidence that genes play a strong role in mediating susceptibility to ADHD. This fact is most clearly seen in the 20 extant twin studies, which estimate the heritability of ADHD to be .76. Molecular genetic studies suggest that the genetic architecture of ADHD is complex. The few genome-wide scans conducted thus far are not conclusive. In contrast, the many candidate gene studies of ADHD have produced substantial evidence implicating several genes in the etiology of the disorder. For the eight genes for which the same variant has been studied in three or more case-control or family-based studies, seven show statistically significant evidence of association with ADHD on the basis of the pooled odds ratio across studies: DRD4, DRD5, DAT, DBH, 5-HTT, HTR1B, and SNAP-25.
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              Voltage-gated calcium (Ca(2+)) channels initiate release of neurotransmitters at synapses, and regulation of presynaptic Ca(2+) channels has a powerful influence on synaptic strength. Presynaptic Ca(2+) channels form a large signaling complex, which targets synaptic vesicles to Ca(2+) channels for efficient release and mediates Ca(2+) channel regulation. Presynaptic plasticity regulates synaptic function on the timescale of milliseconds to minutes in response to neurotransmitters and the frequency of action potentials. This article reviews the regulation of presynaptic Ca(2+) channels by effectors and regulators of Ca(2+) signaling and describes the emerging evidence for a critical role of Ca(2+) channel regulation in control of neurotransmission and in presynaptic plasticity. Failure of function and regulation of presynaptic Ca(2+) channels leads to migraine, ataxia, and potentially other forms of neurological disease. We propose that presynaptic Ca(2+) channels serve as the regulatory node in a dynamic, multilayered signaling network that exerts short-term control of neurotransmission in response to synaptic activity.

                Author and article information

                Transl Psychiatry
                Transl Psychiatry
                Translational Psychiatry
                Nature Publishing Group
                January 2015
                27 January 2015
                1 January 2015
                : 5
                : 1
                : e500
                [1 ]Dipartimento di Biotecnologie Mediche e Medicina Traslazionale, Università degli Studi di Milano , Milan, Italy
                [2 ]Fondazione IRCCS Don Gnocchi , Milan, Italy
                [3 ]Fondazione Fratelli Confalonieri , Milan, Italy
                [4 ]CNR—Neuroscience Institute , Milan, Italy
                [5 ]Department of Electronics, Information and Bioengineering, Politecnico di Milano , Milan, Italy
                [6 ]Child Neuropsychiatry Unit, National Neurological Institute C. Mondino , Pavia, Italy
                [7 ]Department of Experimental, Diagnostic, and Specialty Medicine, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy
                [8 ]Associazione Nazionale Famiglie di Persone con Disabilitá Affettiva e/o Relazionale (ANFFAS), Macerata, Italy
                [9 ]Dipartimento di Fisiopatologia Medico-Chirurgica e dei Trapianti, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milan, Italy
                [10 ]Humanitas Clinical and Research Center, Rozzano, Italy
                Author notes
                [* ]Dipartimento di Biotecnologie Mediche e Medicina Traslazionale, Università degli Studi di Milano , Via Vanvitelli 32, Milan 20129, Italy. E-mail: mariaelvina.sala@ 123456unimi.it
                Copyright © 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited

                This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

                Original Article

                Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry
                Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry


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