Volume 503 Issue 7474, 7 November 2013

Mutations in SHANK3, the gene encoding the SHANK3 synaptic scaffolding protein, are associated with autism, intellectual disability and schizophrenia, but the effect of SHANK3 overexpression is much less clear. Huda Zoghbi and colleagues now show that mice overexpressing Shank3 exhibit mania-like behaviour, seizures and alterations in excitatory/inhibitory balance of neuronal activity. Consistent with the findings in mouse, they identify two patients with hyperkinetic disorders carrying a genetic duplication of the SHANK3-containing region on chromosome 22. These findings support the hypothesis that incorrect gene dosage in either direction (both over- and under-expression) may be detrimental. The authors suggest that the mice used in this work provide a model for the pharmacogenetic underpinnings of some forms of bipolar disorder. Cover: Wei-Hisang Huang.

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