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Candidate autism gene screen identifies critical role for cell-adhesion molecule CASPR2 in dendritic arborization and spine development

Garret R. Anderson, Timothy Galfin, Wei Xu, Jason Aoto, Robert C. Malenka and Thomas C. Südhof
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Vol. 109, No. 44 (October 30, 2012), pp. 18120-18125
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41829817
Page Count: 6
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Candidate autism gene screen identifies critical role for cell-adhesion molecule CASPR2 in dendritic arborization and spine development
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Abstract

Mutations in the contactin-associated protein 2 (CNTNAP2) gene encoding CASPR2, a neurexin-related cell-adhesion molecule, predispose to autism, but the function of CASPR2 in neural circuit assembly remains largely unknown. In a knockdown survey of autism candidate genes, we found that CASPR2 is required for normal development of neural networks. RNAi-mediated knockdown of CASPR2 produced a cell-autonomous decrease in dendritic arborization and spine development in pyramidal neurons, leading to a global decline in excitatory and inhibitory synapse numbers and a decrease in synaptic transmission without a detectable change in the properties of these synapses. Our data suggest that in addition to the previously described role of CASPR2 in mature neurons, where CASPR2 organizes nodal microdomains of myelinated axons, CASPR2 performs an earlier organizational function in developing neurons that is essential for neural circuit assembly and operates coincident with the time of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) pathogenesis.

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