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PNAS 105 (31): 10973-10977

Copyright © 2008 by the National Academy of Sciences.

From the Cover


Microtransplantation of neurotransmitter receptors from postmortem autistic brains to Xenopus oocytes

Agenor Limon*, Jorge Mauricio Reyes-Ruiz*, and Ricardo Miledi*,{dagger},{ddagger}

*Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697-4550 and {dagger}Instituto de Neurobiología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Campus Juriquilla, Boulevard Juriquilla 3001, 76230 Juriquilla, Querétaro, México

Received for publication April 11, 2008.

Abstract: Autism is a complex disorder that arises from the pervasive action of genetic and epigenetic factors that alter synaptic connectivity of the brain. Although GABA and glutamate receptors seem to be two of those factors, very little is known about the functional properties of the autistic receptors. Autistic tissue samples stored in brain banks usually have relatively long postmortem times, and it is highly desirable to know whether neurotransmitter receptors in such tissues are still functional. Here we demonstrate that native receptors microtransplanted from autistic brains, as well as de novo mRNA-expressed receptors, are still functional and susceptible to detailed electrophysiological characterization even after long postmortem intervals. The opportunity to study the properties of human receptors present in diseased brains not only opens new avenues toward understanding autism and other neurological disorders, but it also makes the microtransplantation method a useful translational system to evaluate and develop novel medicinal drugs.

Key Words: autism • human brain • GABA receptors • glutamate receptors

Contributed by Ricardo Miledi, University of California, Irvine, CA, May 10, 2008

Author contributions: A.L., J.M.R.-R., and R.M. designed research, performed research, analyzed data, and wrote the paper.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

See Commentary on page 10641.

{ddagger}To whom correspondence should be addressed at: 2205 McGaugh Hall, Irvine, CA 92697-4550. E-mail: rmiledi{at}

© 2008 by The National Academy of Sciences of the USA

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