Transcriptome analysis reveals dysregulation of innate immune response genes and neuronal activity-dependent genes in autism.
Recent studies of genomic variation associated with autism have suggested the existence of extreme heterogeneity. Large-scale transcriptomics should complement these results to identify core molecular pathways underlying autism.
Here we report results from a large-scale RNA sequencing effort, utilizing region-matched autism and control brains to identify neuronal and microglial genes robustly dysregulated in autism cortical brain.
Remarkably, we note that a gene expression module corresponding to M2-activation states in microglia is negatively correlated with a differentially expressed neuronal module, implicating dysregulated microglial responses in concert with altered neuronal activity-dependent genes in autism brains. These observations provide pathways and candidate genes that highlight the interplay between innate immunity and neuronal activity in the aetiology of autism.