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dc.contributor.advisorSurani, Azim
dc.contributor.advisorRennert, Owen
dc.contributor.authorZiats, Mark
dc.date.accessioned2014-07-11T10:50:43Z
dc.date.available2014-07-11T10:50:43Z
dc.date.issued2014-07-01
dc.identifier.otherPhD.37745
dc.identifier.urihttps://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/245461
dc.description.abstractHuman neurodevelopment requires the coordinated expression of thousands of genes, exquisitely regulated in both spatial and temporal dimensions, to achieve the proper specialization and inter-connectivity of brain regions. Consequently, the dysregulation of complex gene networks in the developing brain is believed to underlie many neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Autism has a significant genetic etiology, but there are hundreds of genes implicated, and their functions are heterogeneous and complex. Therefore, an understanding of shared molecular and cellular pathways underlying the development ASD has remained elusive, hampering attempts to develop common diagnostic biomarkers or treatments for this disorder. I hypothesized that analyzing functional genomics relationships among ASD candidate genes during normal human brain development would provide insight into common cellular and molecular pathways that are affected in autistic individuals, and may help elucidate how hundreds of diverse genes can all be linked to a single clinical phenotype. This thesis describes a coordinated set of bioinformatics experiments that first (i) assessed for gene expression and co-expression properties among ASD candidates and other non-coding RNAs during normal human brain development to discover potential shared mechanisms; and then (ii) directly assessed for changes in these pathways in autistic post-mortem brain tissue. The results demonstrated that when examined in the context of normal human brain gene expression during early development, autism candidate genes appear to be strongly related to the neurodevelopmental pathways of synaptogenesis, mitochondrial function, glial cytokine signaling, and transcription/translation regulation. Furthermore, the known sex bias in ASD prevalence appeared to relate to differences in gene expression between the developing brains of males and females. Follow up studies in autistic brain tissue confirmed that changes in mitochondrial gene expression networks, glial pathways, and gene expression regulatory mechanisms are all altered in the brains of autistic individuals. Together, these results show that the heterogeneous set of autism candidate genes are related to each other through shared transcriptional networks that funnel into common molecular mechanisms, and that these mechanisms are aberrant in autistic brains.en
dc.language.isoen_USen
dc.rightsAll Rights Reserveden
dc.rights.urihttps://www.rioxx.net/licenses/all-rights-reserved/en
dc.subjectautistic disorderen
dc.subjectgene expressionen
dc.subjectnon-coding RNAen
dc.subjectfunctional genomicsen
dc.subjecthuman brain developmenten
dc.titleFunctional genomics studies of human brain development and implications for autism spectrum disorderen
dc.typeThesisen
dc.type.qualificationlevelDoctoral
dc.type.qualificationnameDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)
dc.publisher.institutionUniversity of Cambridgeen
dc.publisher.departmentDepartment of Physiology, Development and Neuroscienceen
dc.identifier.doi10.17863/CAM.16340
rioxxterms.freetoread.startdate2014-09-19


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