Using CRISPR gene editing, researchers introduce the SHANK3 gene variant into macaque monkeys. SHANK3 has previously been linked to autism in humans. The monkeys with the SHANK3 mutations exhibited behavioral traits and brain activity patterns similar to those seen in humans on the autism spectrum, Researchers hope the new model will facilitate new avenues of research for ASD.
Deficiencies in the SHANK3 gene have been linked to sleep disruptions in both mouse models and people with ASD. Researchers found patients with Phelan-McDermid syndrome, a genetic disorder associated with autism, report trouble falling, and staying asleep. In mouse models, animals lacking the SHANK3 gene had a reduction in deep sleep quality and spent more time awake when other mice were sleeping.
Researchers provide new evidence for the severity of motor, intellectual and speech impairments in Phelan-McDermid Syndrome, a sub-type of autism characterized by a mutation of the SHANK3 gene.