‘Autistic’ mice make littermates less social

Mice engineered for use as a model of autism can affect the behaviour of wild-type animals kept in the same housing.

Mice genetically engineered to show autism-like symptoms can affect behaviour of unmodified animals when the two are kept together.

Mice that have been genetically modified to develop symptoms of autism spectrum disorder can influence how their unmodified littermates act — causing them to become less social, researchers have found.

The phenomenon could undermine certain experiments that rely on mouse models of autism, and raises questions about the reliability of past results.

Stéphane Baudouin, a behavioural neuroscientist at Cardiff University, UK, was developing an experiment to study autism using mice engineered to lack a gene called neurolignin-3. In humans, mutations in this gene are linked to autism; in mice, they are linked to symptoms similar to those seen in people with the disorder, such as repetitive behaviours and social deficits.

Read more : https://www.nature.com/news/autistic-mice-make-littermates-less-social-1.22411

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