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Autism: a gene drives social attitudes

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A recent American study has identified a gene named TOP2a which could be essential for the early evolution of basic social behaviors. Exposure to some drugs and environmental risk factors in the embryonic stage may be the reason for changes in this gene. This can lead to alterations in social behavior similar to people with autism

 

Little is known about the development of social behaviors in the early stages of life. But many animals and humans have the innate ability to bond socially with others. The TOP2a gene monitors genes aimed at increasing the risk of autism. It could represent the link between genes and environmental factors that contribute to the disorder. The researchers examined whether environmental exposures and more than 1120 drugs in embryonic development influence social behavior. The experiment was done on laboratory animals. 

It was found that animals exposed to four of these drugs were less likely to bond with other animals. The four drugs are part of the class of antibiotics used to treat respiratory infections. These drugs have been found to suppress the TOP2a gene. A link between autism-associated genes and a group of PRC2 proteins has also been identified . TOP2a and PRC2 may possibly work together to control the production of several genes associated with autism.

  • Autism: identified a gene that drives social behavior (quotidianosanita.it)
 

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