One particularly distinct characteristic of autism genes the researchers found is their exceptional genomic length, which is longer than other brain-expressed genes of closely related diseases such as Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia. Additionally, when the researchers studied families that have a child diagnosed with ASD, they found a unique genomic signature shaped by negative selection, an evolutionary process that purifies and removes disruptive mutations from genes and prevents them from replicating over generations. Dr. get redirected hereMenashe and his colleagues also searched for evidence of positive selection in these genes, which would cause an increase in frequency until they are a factor in the population. “While this kind of mechanism could explain the prevalence of autism in the human population, we found no indications of positive selection acting on autism genes,” he says. “Thus, while autism susceptibility mutations are in the human genome, they only present as an autism disorder when combined with other genetic, non-genetic or environmental factors. “Our findings suggest that ASD genes have evolved under complex evolutionary forces, which have left a unique signature that can be used to identify new ASD candidate genes,” the researchers add. ### DOI: 10.1007/s10519-016-9804-4 About American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU) plays a vital role in sustaining David Ben-Gurion’s vision: creating a world-class institution of education and research in the Israeli desert, nurturing the Negev community and sharing the University’s expertise locally and around the globe. As Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) looks ahead to turning 50 in 2020, AABGU imagines a future that goes beyond the walls of academia.
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