Previous Page  8 / 42 Next Page
Information
Show Menu
Previous Page 8 / 42 Next Page
Page Background

6 INSIDE SALK

WINTER 2016

WWW.SALK.EDU

NEURODEVELOPMENTAL MODEL OF WILLIAMS

SYNDROME OFFERS INSIGHT INTO HUMAN SOCIAL BRAIN

Rare genetic condition produces individuals with extremely

sociable personalities but research may also shed light on biology

and behavior of persons with autism and other social disorders.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego and

the Salk Institute have created Williams syndrome-derived

neurons in culture.

C

redit: University of California, San Diego

DISCOVERIES

NEUROSCIENCE

In an August 2016

Nature

paper

spanning molecular genetics, stem

cells and the sciences of brain and

behavior, researchers at the University

of California, San Diego and the Salk

Institute have created a neuro-

developmental model of a rare

genetic disorder that may provide new

insights into the underlying neurobiology

of the human social brain. The disorder,

calledWilliams syndrome (WS), is a rare

genetic condition caused by deletion of

one copy of 25 contiguous genes on

chromosome 7, out of an estimated

30,000 genes in the brain. WS affects one

in 10,000 people worldwide and an

estimated 20,000 Americans. WS

results in developmental delays, yet

relative strengths in language use and

face processing that result in a hyper-

social predisposition. The labs of Ursula

Bellugi and Rusty Gage in conjunction

with UCSDwere able to directly observe

the behavior of cells with the genetic

profile of WS. The cross-disciplinary

research not only suggests potential new

treatments for this behavioral syndrome

but could also help scientists to better

understand the fundamental biological

processes underlying social interactions.