DNA Methylation and Susceptibility to Autism Spectrum Disorder.
The prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has been increasing steadily over the last 20 years; however, the molecular basis for the majority of ASD cases remains unknown. Recent advances in next-generation sequencing and detection of DNA modifications have made methylation-dependent regulation of transcription an attractive hypothesis for being a causative factor in ASD etiology. Evidence for abnormal DNA methylation in ASD can be seen on multiple levels, from genetic mutations in epigenetic machinery to loci-specific and genome-wide changes in DNA methylation. Epimutations in DNA methylation can be acquired throughout life, as global DNA methylation reprogramming is dynamic during embryonic development and the early postnatal period that corresponds to the peak time of synaptogenesis. However, technical advances and causative evidence still need to be established before abnormal DNA methylation and ASD can be confidently associated.
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