Genes Involved in Birth Defects May Also Lead to Mental Illness, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Study

Published: Jun 25, 2013

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Gene mutations that lead to major birth defects may also cause subtle disruptions in the brain that contribute to psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, autism, and bipolar disorder, according to new research by UC San Francisco scientists. Over the past several years, researchers in the laboratory of psychiatrist Benjamin Cheyette, MD, PhD, have shown that mutations in a gene called Dact1 cause cell signaling networks to go awry during embryonic development. Researchers observed that mice with Dact1 mutations were born with a range of severe malformations, including some reminiscent of spina bifida in humans.

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