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Biol Psychiatry. 2019 Aug 15;86(4):294-305. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2019.04.029. Epub 2019 May 9.

Habituation Learning Is a Widely Affected Mechanism in Drosophila Models of Intellectual Disability and Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Author information

1
Department of Human Genetics, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
2
Aktogen Limited, Department of Genetics, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom; Aktogen Hungary Limited, Bay Zoltán Nonprofit Limited for Applied Research, Institute for Biotechnology, Szeged, Hungary.
3
School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
4
Centre for Molecular and Biomolecular Informatics, Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
5
Department of Human Genetics, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands; Department of Cognitive Neuroscience, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
6
Department of Cognitive Neuroscience, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
7
Department for Health Evidence, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
8
Institute of Human Genetics, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Germany.
9
Department of Genome Sciences, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, Washington; Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.
10
School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
11
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.
12
Aktogen Limited, Department of Genetics, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom; Aktogen Hungary Limited, Bay Zoltán Nonprofit Limited for Applied Research, Institute for Biotechnology, Szeged, Hungary; Institute of Biochemistry, Biological Research Centre, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Szeged, Hungary.
13
Department of Human Genetics, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Electronic address: Annette.Schenck@radboudumc.nl.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Although habituation is one of the most ancient and fundamental forms of learning, its regulators and its relevance for human disease are poorly understood.

METHODS:

We manipulated the orthologs of 286 genes implicated in intellectual disability (ID) with or without comorbid autism spectrum disorder (ASD) specifically in Drosophila neurons, and we tested these models in light-off jump habituation. We dissected neuronal substrates underlying the identified habituation deficits and integrated genotype-phenotype annotations, gene ontologies, and interaction networks to determine the clinical features and molecular processes that are associated with habituation deficits.

RESULTS:

We identified >100 genes required for habituation learning. For 93 of these genes, a role in habituation learning was previously unknown. These genes characterize ID disorders with macrocephaly and/or overgrowth and comorbid ASD. Moreover, individuals with ASD from the Simons Simplex Collection carrying damaging de novo mutations in these genes exhibit increased aberrant behaviors associated with inappropriate, stereotypic speech. At the molecular level, ID genes required for normal habituation are enriched in synaptic function and converge on Ras/mitogen-activated protein kinase (Ras/MAPK) signaling. Both increased Ras/MAPK signaling in gamma-aminobutyric acidergic (GABAergic) neurons and decreased Ras/MAPK signaling in cholinergic neurons specifically inhibit the adaptive habituation response.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our work supports the relevance of habituation learning to ASD, identifies an unprecedented number of novel habituation players, supports an emerging role for inhibitory neurons in habituation, and reveals an opposing, circuit-level-based mechanism for Ras/MAPK signaling. These findings establish habituation as a possible, widely applicable functional readout and target for pharmacologic intervention in ID/ASD.

KEYWORDS:

Autism spectrum disorder; Drosophila; GABAergic neurons; Habituation learning; Intellectual disability; Ras/MAPK

PMID:
31272685
DOI:
10.1016/j.biopsych.2019.04.029
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