Autism Genes

MindSpec and Mitra Lab, CSHL to collaborate on autism bioinformatics research

The nonprofit research organization MindSpec and the Mitra Lab of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory are pleased to announce a collaboration to investigate cellular events underlying autism spectrum disorders.  With the biological foundation of MindSpec and the analytical capabilities of the Mitra Lab, their joint research program will develop innovative bioinformatics tools for the autism research community and analyze data content for neurobiological patterns among autism candidate genes.

In their initial collaboration, MindSpec and Mitra Lab researchers identified potential novel autism candidate genes and prioritized existing ones by analyzing gene expression profiles.   In brief, they categorized and ranked a reference set of well-established autism-linked genes based upon their strength of co-expression pattern with other autism-associated genes in the network.  A particularly strong co-expression network was found among four genes (NRXN1, CNTNAP2, DPP6, and DPP10), which they used to screen the Allen Mouse Brain Atlas and generate a discovery gene set of over 160 genes potentially dysfunctional in autism spectrum disorders.  The development of an integrated website with the details of this study is currently underway and will be available in the near future.

Their current collaboration utilizes an integrated approach to map brain architecture. The research team is developing text mining tools to search and extract related information from diverse scientific sources.   The Brain Architecture Project is envisioned to have immediate application for network biology analysis of molecular pathways involved in pathogenesis of autism.

Future collaborations will build upon these existing projects to illuminate information about the genetic mechanisms associated with autism spectrum disorders and accelerate the discovery and development of treatments to alleviate the symptoms of affected individuals.

MindSpec, Inc. (http://www.mindspec.org/) is a nonprofit research organization utilizing innovative bioinformatics strategies to accelerate research on common neurodevelopmental disorders. They developed a publicly-available, manually curated gene database for autism, AutDB (http://www.mindspec.org/autdb.html.

The Mitra Lab is based at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.  Using a multi-disciplinary approach, they integrate experimental, computational, and statistical methods to create new knowledge and provide new ways to address questions about the brain in health and disease.