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mTOR-dependent spine dynamics in autism

Chaudry, S. and Vasudevan, N. ORCID: (2022) mTOR-dependent spine dynamics in autism. Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, 15. 877609. ISSN 1662-5099

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To link to this item DOI: 10.3389/fnmol.2022.877609


Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) are a group of neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by deficits in social communication and interaction as well as repetitive behaviors and restricted range of interests. ASC are complex genetic disorders with moderate to high heritability, and associated with atypical patterns of neural connectivity. Many of the genes implicated in ASC are involved in dendritic spine pruning and spine development, both of which can be mediated by the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway. Consistent with this idea, human postmortem studies have shown increased spine density in ASC compared to controls suggesting that the balance between autophagy and spinogenesis is altered in ASC. However, murine models of ASC have shown inconsistent results for spine morphology, which may underlie functional connectivity. This review seeks to establish the relevance of changes in dendritic spines in ASC using data gathered from rodent models. Using a literature survey, we identify 20 genes that are linked to dendritic spine pruning or development in rodents that are also strongly implicated in ASC in humans. Furthermore, we show that all 20 genes are linked to the mTOR pathway and propose that the mTOR pathway regulating spine dynamics is a potential mechanism underlying the ASC signaling pathway in ASC. We show here that the direction of change in spine density was mostly correlated to the upstream positive or negative regulation of the mTOR pathway and most rodent models of mutant mTOR regulators show increases in immature spines, based on morphological analyses. We further explore the idea that these mutations in these genes result in aberrant social behavior in rodent models that is due to these altered spine dynamics. This review should therefore pave the way for further research on the specific genes outlined, their effect on spine morphology or density with an emphasis on understanding the functional role of these changes in ASC.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Biomedical Sciences
ID Code:105938
Publisher:Frontiers Media


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