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      The pathophysiology of restricted repetitive behavior

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          Abstract

          Restricted, repetitive behaviors (RRBs) are heterogeneous ranging from stereotypic body movements to rituals to restricted interests. RRBs are most strongly associated with autism but occur in a number of other clinical disorders as well as in typical development. There does not seem to be a category of RRB that is unique or specific to autism and RRB does not seem to be robustly correlated with specific cognitive, sensory or motor abnormalities in autism. Despite its clinical significance, little is known about the pathophysiology of RRB. Both clinical and animal models studies link repetitive behaviors to genetic mutations and a number of specific genetic syndromes have RRBs as part of the clinical phenotype. Genetic risk factors may interact with experiential factors resulting in the extremes in repetitive behavior phenotypic expression that characterize autism. Few studies of individuals with autism have correlated MRI findings and RRBs and no attempt has been made to associate RRB and post-mortem tissue findings. Available clinical and animal models data indicate functional and structural alterations in cortical-basal ganglia circuitry in the expression of RRB, however. Our own studies point to reduced activity of the indirect basal ganglia pathway being associated with high levels of repetitive behavior in an animal model. These findings, if generalizable, suggest specific therapeutic targets. These, and perhaps other, perturbations to cortical basal ganglia circuitry are mediated by specific molecular mechanisms (e.g., altered gene expression) that result in long-term, experience-dependent neuroadaptations that initiate and maintain repetitive behavior. A great deal more research is needed to uncover such mechanisms. Work in areas such as substance abuse, OCD, Tourette syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, and dementias promise to provide findings critical for identifying neurobiological mechanisms relevant to RRB in autism. Moreover, basic research in areas such as birdsong, habit formation, and procedural learning may provide additional, much needed clues. Understanding the pathophysioloy of repetitive behavior will be critical to identifying novel therapeutic targets and strategies for individuals with autism.

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          Most cited references 226

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          Strong association of de novo copy number mutations with autism.

          We tested the hypothesis that de novo copy number variation (CNV) is associated with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). We performed comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) on the genomic DNA of patients and unaffected subjects to detect copy number variants not present in their respective parents. Candidate genomic regions were validated by higher-resolution CGH, paternity testing, cytogenetics, fluorescence in situ hybridization, and microsatellite genotyping. Confirmed de novo CNVs were significantly associated with autism (P = 0.0005). Such CNVs were identified in 12 out of 118 (10%) of patients with sporadic autism, in 2 out of 77 (3%) of patients with an affected first-degree relative, and in 2 out of 196 (1%) of controls. Most de novo CNVs were smaller than microscopic resolution. Affected genomic regions were highly heterogeneous and included mutations of single genes. These findings establish de novo germline mutation as a more significant risk factor for ASD than previously recognized.
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            Mutations in the gene encoding the synaptic scaffolding protein SHANK3 are associated with autism spectrum disorders.

            SHANK3 (also known as ProSAP2) regulates the structural organization of dendritic spines and is a binding partner of neuroligins; genes encoding neuroligins are mutated in autism and Asperger syndrome. Here, we report that a mutation of a single copy of SHANK3 on chromosome 22q13 can result in language and/or social communication disorders. These mutations concern only a small number of individuals, but they shed light on one gene dosage-sensitive synaptic pathway that is involved in autism spectrum disorders.
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              Mapping autism risk loci using genetic linkage and chromosomal rearrangements.

              Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are common, heritable neurodevelopmental conditions. The genetic architecture of ASDs is complex, requiring large samples to overcome heterogeneity. Here we broaden coverage and sample size relative to other studies of ASDs by using Affymetrix 10K SNP arrays and 1,181 [corrected] families with at least two affected individuals, performing the largest linkage scan to date while also analyzing copy number variation in these families. Linkage and copy number variation analyses implicate chromosome 11p12-p13 and neurexins, respectively, among other candidate loci. Neurexins team with previously implicated neuroligins for glutamatergic synaptogenesis, highlighting glutamate-related genes as promising candidates for contributing to ASDs.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                marklewis@ufl.edu
                Journal
                J Neurodev Disord
                Journal of neurodevelopmental disorders
                Springer US (Boston )
                1866-1947
                1866-1955
                16 June 2009
                June 2009
                : 1
                : 2
                : 114-132
                Affiliations
                University of Florida, Gainesville, FL USA
                Article
                9019
                10.1007/s11689-009-9019-6
                3090677
                21547711
                © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009
                Categories
                Article
                Custom metadata
                © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

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