Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are an early onset, heterogeneous group of heritable neuropsychiatric disorders with symptoms that include deficits in social interaction skills, impaired communication abilities, and ritualistic-like repetitive behaviours. One of the hypotheses for a common molecular mechanism underlying ASDs is altered translational control resulting in exaggerated protein synthesis. Genetic variants in chromosome 4q, which contains the EIF4E locus, have been described in patients with autism. Importantly, a rare single nucleotide polymorphism has been identified in autism that is associated with increased promoter activity in the EIF4E gene. Here we show that genetically increasing the levels of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E (eIF4E) in mice results in exaggerated cap-dependent translation and aberrant behaviours reminiscent of autism, including repetitive and perseverative behaviours and social interaction deficits. Moreover, these autistic-like behaviours are accompanied by synaptic pathophysiology in the medial prefrontal cortex, striatum and hippocampus. The autistic-like behaviours displayed by the eIF4E-transgenic mice are corrected by intracerebroventricular infusions of the cap-dependent translation inhibitor 4EGI-1. Our findings demonstrate a causal relationship between exaggerated cap-dependent translation, synaptic dysfunction and aberrant behaviours associated with autism.
"In support of this is the widespread and extensive lengthening of 3' UTRs (untranslated regions) that are targeted by miRNAs in the mammalian brain  . Targeting the dysregulation of protein synthesis opens up a novel approach for the effective treatment of some neuropsychiatric disorders     . "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Schizophrenia (SZ) is a devastating mental disorder afflicting 1% of the population. Recent genome-wide association studies (GWASs) of SZ have identified >100 risk loci. However, the causal variants/genes and the causal mechanisms remain largely unknown, which hinders the translation of GWAS findings into disease biology and drug targets. Most risk variants are noncoding, thus likely regulate gene expression. A major mechanism of transcriptional regulation is chromatin remodeling, and open chromatin is a versatile predictor of regulatory sequences. MicroRNA-mediated post-transcriptional regulation plays an important role in SZ pathogenesis. Neurons differentiated from patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) provide an experimental model to characterize the genetic perturbation of regulatory variants that are often specific to cell type and/or developmental stage. The emerging genome-editing technology enables the creation of isogenic iPSCs and neurons to efficiently characterize the effects of SZ-associated regulatory variants on SZ-relevant molecular and cellular phenotypes involving dopaminergic, glutamatergic, and GABAergic neurotransmissions. SZ GWAS findings equipped with the emerging functional genomics approaches provide an unprecedented opportunity for understanding new disease biology and identifying novel drug targets.
"Remarkably, suppression of neuroligin 1 partially reversed the behavioral phenotypes in these mice (Gkogkas et al., 2013). In a parallel study, overexpression of eIF4E similarly resulted in defective social behavior and hippocampal physiology (Santini et al., 2013). These studies have illuminated translational regulation pathways as crucial mediators of higher order cognitive function and suggest that manipulation of these pathways may be pharmacological targets for treating autism. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway is a crucial cellular signaling hub that, like the nervous system itself, integrates internal and external cues to elicit critical outputs including growth control, protein synthesis, gene expression, and metabolic balance. The importance of mTOR signaling to brain function is underscored by the myriad disorders in which mTOR pathway dysfunction is implicated, such as autism, epilepsy, and neurodegenerative disorders. Pharmacological manipulation of mTOR signaling holds therapeutic promise and has entered clinical trials for several disorders. Here, we review the functions of mTOR signaling in the normal and pathological brain, highlighting ongoing efforts to translate our understanding of cellular physiology into direct medical benefit for neurological disorders.
"An important regulatory action was recently described in the other component of this pathway, the downstream effectors of mTOR. Signaling molecules in the downstream of the mTOR pathway have been demonstrated to play crucial roles in ASD pathogenesis, further highlighting its role (37, 38). Furthermore, 4E-BP2 inhibits protein translation by competing with eIF4G for eIF4E binding. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Current therapeutics in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) only treat the associated symptoms, without addressing core social dysfunctions. A paradigm shift in research of the pathogenesis of ASD, its synaptic abnormalities and altered signaling in multiple dynamic systems, have led to new experimental treatments for treating the core social abnormalities of ASD. NMDA antagonists, especially memantine, have been introduced in clinical trials addressing glutamatergic transmission in children and adolescents with ASD. GABAergic signaling has been targeted in trials using the GABAB receptor agonist arbaclofen for ASD patients with promising results. Oxytocin has been recognized as implicated in social development and affiliative behaviors. Preliminary findings from clinical trials using oxytocin in children with ASD show encouraging improvements in social cognition, but larger studies are needed. In two of the single gene disorders associated with ASD, Insulin Growth Factor (IGF-1) is a new treatment that has been tested in Rett syndrome and Phelan-McDermid syndrome (Chromosome 22 deletion syndrome). IGF-1 has been demonstrated to reverse the reduction in the number of excitatory synapses and the density of neurons that characterize these conditions in animal studies and it is being introduced as an experimental treatment. As a novel approach to verify treatment efficacy, neural processing modifications were recently evaluated by fMRI after a pivotal response training intervention. Another study of neural changes in response to treatment examined variations in EEG signaling in patients after an Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) intervention.
Frontiers in Pediatrics 06/2014; 2:61. DOI:10.3389/fped.2014.00061
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