Riemersma IW, Havekes R, Kas MJH
Genes (Basel). 2021 Dec 23;13(1):28. doi: 10.3390/genes13010028.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental condition that is characterized by differences in social interaction, repetitive behaviors, restricted interests, and sensory differences beginning early in life. Especially sensory symptoms are highly correlated with the severity of other behavioral differences. ASD is a highly heterogeneous condition on multiple levels, including clinical presentation, genetics, and developmental trajectories. Over a thousand genes have been implicated in ASD. This has facilitated the generation of more than two hundred genetic mouse models that are contributing to understanding the biological underpinnings of ASD. Since the first symptoms already arise during early life, it is especially important to identify both spatial and temporal gene functions in relation to the ASD phenotype. To further decompose the heterogeneity, ASD-related genes can be divided into different subgroups based on common functions, such as genes involved in synaptic function. Furthermore, finding common biological processes that are modulated by this subgroup of genes is essential for possible patient stratification and the development of personalized early treatments. Here, we review the current knowledge on behavioral rodent models of synaptic dysfunction by focusing on behavioral phenotypes, spatial and temporal gene function, and molecular targets that could lead to new targeted gene-based therapy.