A number of enzymes (proteins that aid in biological reactions) have been pin-pointed in having a profound effect on the genetic building and neurological pathways associated closely with Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders.
The family of proteins, called topoisomerases are predominantly
responsible for winding and unwinding DNA during the process of
replication, when new cells are formed and copied and can have profound
effects on the genetic machinery behind brain development and
potentially lead to autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
The outcome was announced on August 28 by scientists in residence
at University of North Carolina School of Medicine who believe that this
is a significant breakthrough in understanding how Autism develops
A small change in the structure of these enzymes could lead to an
array of genetic mutations and changes in neurological pathways which
alter the chemistry and biology of the brain, and thought behavioural
patterns in an individual.
Zylka and his colleagues stumbled upon the discovery quite by
accident, while looking at a protein used commonly in chemotherapy
treatment – Topotecan They noticed that the drug tended to interfere
with the proper functioning of genes that were exceptionally long and
composed of many DNA base pairs. The group then made the serendipitous
connection that many autism-linked genes are extremely long.
There are over 300 genes linked to Autism, but using the chemotherapy
protein suppressed over 50 of them, which is means that suppressing
that many genes across the board — even to a small extent — means a
person who is exposed to a topoisomerase inhibitor during brain
development could experience neurological effects equivalent to those
seen in a person who gets ASD because of a single faulty gene.
Read the story at Autism Daily Newscast