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and treatment of mental illnesses.

Science News About Genetics

A central circle with multiple colored patches inside. The colored patches represent a visualization of the mouse MOp transcriptomic taxonomy. Surrounding the central circle are pictures of various types of neurons in colors that coordinate with the patches used in the central circle (pinks on left and greens and blues on the right). Interspersed with the images of the neurons are spike graphs showing neuron electrophysiological profiles. (Credit: Tolias/Nature)
NIH BRAIN Initiative Unveils Detailed Atlas of the Mammalian Primary Motor Cortex

The NIH Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN) Initiative Cell Census Network (BICCN) has unveiled an atlas of cell types and an anatomical neuronal wiring diagram for the mammalian primary motor cortex, derived from detailed studies of mice, monkeys, and humans.

 A high-powered black and white microscope image showing exosomes, nanosized parts of cells. (Credit: Surya Shrivastava / City of Hope
Researchers Use Exosome-Based Strategy to Block HIV in Mice

In this NIMH-funded study, researchers used exosomes to deliver novel protein into the cells of mice infected with HIV. The protein attached to HIV’s genetic material and prevented it from replicating, resulting in reduced levels of HIV in the bone marrow, spleen, and brain.

Illustration of DNA double helix
Gene Readouts Contribute To Distinctness of Mental Disorders

A new study conducted by researchers at NIMH suggests that differences in the expression of gene transcripts – readouts copied from DNA that help maintain and build our cells – may hold the key to understanding how mental disorders with shared genetic risk factors result in different patterns of onset, symptoms, course of illness, and treatment responses.

Image of brain neurons
NIH-funded Study Sheds Light on Abnormal Neural Function in Rare Genetic Disorder

A genetic study has identified neuronal abnormalities in the electrical activity of cortical cells derived from people with a rare genetic disorder called 22q11.2 deletion syndrome.

blueprint style line drawing of human brain
Study Shows Highly Reproducible Sex Differences in Aspects of Human Brain Anatomy

A scientific analysis of more than 2,000 brain scans found evidence for highly reproducible sex differences in the volume of certain regions in the human brain.

Neuronal spines
Schizophrenia Risk Gene Linked to Cognitive Deficits in Mice

Mice with an impaired version of one the few genes definitively linked to schizophrenia showed abnormalities in working memory, mimicking those commonly seen in schizophrenia patients.

microscopic image of an induced human neuron
Gene Regulators Work Together for Oversized Impact on Schizophrenia Risk

Gene expression regulators work together to raise an individual’s risk of developing schizophrenia. Schizophrenia-like gene expression changes modeled in human neurons matched changes found in patients’ brains.

brain scan showing molecular structure
2,000 Human Brains Yield Clues to How Genes Raise Risk for Mental Illnesses

PsychENCODE researchers are discovering the biological mechanisms by which mental illness risk genes work in the human brain.

Mouse preoptic region cell clusters
NIH BRAIN Initiative Debuts Cell Census of Mouse Motor Cortex – for Starters

NIH BRAIN Initiative Cell Census Network (BICCN) has debuted its first data release, which focuses on motor cortex. In a related development, researchers have discovered cellular secrets of key social behaviors – mating, parenting, and aggression – in mouse hypothalamus.

Illustration of a DNA double helix
Inherited Variations in Noncoding Sections of DNA Associated with Autism

A new study has identified an association between paternally-inherited rare structural variants in noncoding segments of genes and the development of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The study adds to a growing body of research describing genetic contributors to ASD.

Chart shows correlations of gene expression between mental disorders.
Suspect Molecules Overlap in Autism, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder

Depression, schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorder share some of the same patterns of suspect gene expression – molecular signatures.

gene illustration
NIH Completes Atlas of Human DNA Differences that Influence Gene Expression

NIH researchers have completed an atlas documenting how DNA influence human gene expression.

Epigenomic signatures of neuron subtypes
Breakthrough Method Yields Trove of Neuron Subtypes, Gene Regulators

Scientists have discovered a trove of neuronal subtypes by identifying their unique epigenomic signatures.

Neanderthal gene-influenced brain visual system areas
Our Brains Harbor “Residual Echo” of Neanderthal Genes

Researchers have produced the first direct evidence that parts of our brains implicated in mental disorders may be shaped by a “residual echo” from our ancient past. The more a person’s genome carries genetic vestiges of Neanderthals, the more certain parts of his or her brain and skull resemble those of humans’ evolutionary cousins that went extinct 40,000 years ago.

3-D analysis of intact mouse hippocampus
NIMH Grantee Wins One of Science’s Most Coveted Prizes

NIMH grantee Karl Deisseroth, M.D., Ph.D., of Stanford University, has been awarded one of science’s most generous prizes. A German foundation presented the inventor of technologies that are transforming neuroscience with its 4 million euros Fresenius Prize.

hippocampus PET scan
Estrogen Alters Memory Circuit Function in Women with Gene Variant

Brain scans reveal that fluctuations in estrogen can trigger atypical functioning in a key brain memory circuit in women with a common version of a gene. Since working memory function is often disturbed in mental disorders, such gene-hormone interactions are suspect mechanisms that may confer risk.

Toddler walking - delayed
Delayed Walking May Signal Spontaneous Gene Anomalies in Autism

Researchers have discovered a pattern of genetic glitches and behavioral features, such as delayed walking, in some cases of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that could ultimately lead to identification of subgroups and improved treatment.

ASD gene mutation
A Third of Suspect Mutations in ASD Just “Noise”

Researchers have narrowed suspected genetic causes of autism and related developmental disabilities by ruling out what they call the “noise of benign variation.”

ESC/E(Z) gene complex
Sex Hormone–Sensitive Gene Complex Linked to Premenstrual Mood Disorder

Researchers have discovered molecular mechanisms that may underlie a woman’s susceptibility to disabling irritability, sadness, and anxiety in the days leading up to her menstrual period.