Autism-related gene: Stunted neuron branching restored in mice

Bringing back branching

The neurotrophic factor BDNF restores neural branching growth in cells with NHE6 gene defects. The top row shows a neuron with no defect (left) and a less branched neuron with the NHE6 defect (right). Neurons below (no defect on the left, with defect on the right) received BDNF. Credit: Morrow lab/Brown University

In a new study in Neuron, Brown University researchers report that mutation of a gene associated with some autism forms in humans can hinder the proper growth and connectivity of brain cells in mice. They also show how that understanding allowed them to restore proper cell growth in the lab.