How one gene contributes to two diseases

Although it is known that psychiatric disorders have a strong genetic component, untangling the web of genes contributing to each disease is a daunting task. Scientists have found hundreds of genes that are mutated in patients with disorders such as autism, but each patient usually has only a handful of these variations. To further complicate matters, some of these genes contribute to more than one disorder. One such gene, known as Shank3, has been linked to both autism and schizophrenia. MIT neuroscientists have now shed some light on how a single gene can play a role in more than one disease. In a study appearing in the Dec. 10 online edition of Neuron, they revealed that two different mutations of the Shank3 gene produce some distinct molecular and behavioral effects…


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