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Nat Commun. 2014 Dec 10;5:5748. doi: 10.1038/ncomms6748.

Transcriptome analysis reveals dysregulation of innate immune response genes and neuronal activity-dependent genes in autism.

Author information

1
Department of Medicine, McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.
2
1] Department of Medicine, McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA [2] Department of Biomedical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.
3
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.
4
Department of Neurology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama 35294, USA.

Abstract

Recent studies of genomic variation associated with autism have suggested the existence of extreme heterogeneity. Large-scale transcriptomics should complement these results to identify core molecular pathways underlying autism. Here we report results from a large-scale RNA sequencing effort, utilizing region-matched autism and control brains to identify neuronal and microglial genes robustly dysregulated in autism cortical brain. Remarkably, we note that a gene expression module corresponding to M2-activation states in microglia is negatively correlated with a differentially expressed neuronal module, implicating dysregulated microglial responses in concert with altered neuronal activity-dependent genes in autism brains. These observations provide pathways and candidate genes that highlight the interplay between innate immunity and neuronal activity in the aetiology of autism.

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