Linking Autism Risk Genes to Disruption of Cortical Development

Cells. 2020 Nov 18;9(11):2500. doi: 10.3390/cells9112500.


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a prevalent neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impairments in social communication and social interaction, and the presence of repetitive behaviors and/or restricted interests. In the past few years, large-scale whole-exome sequencing and genome-wide association studies have made enormous progress in our understanding of the genetic risk architecture of ASD. While showing a complex and heterogeneous landscape, these studies have led to the identification of genetic loci associated with ASD risk. The intersection of genetic and transcriptomic analyses have also begun to shed light on functional convergences between risk genes, with the mid-fetal development of the cerebral cortex emerging as a critical nexus for ASD. In this review, we provide a concise summary of the latest genetic discoveries on ASD. We then discuss the studies in postmortem tissues, stem cell models, and rodent models that implicate recently identified ASD risk genes in cortical development.

Keywords: autism spectrum disorder; cortical development; mouse models.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autistic Disorder / genetics*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Malformations of Cortical Development / genetics*
  • Mice
  • Risk Factors