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Development of Bacterial Screens for ASD-Associated Compounds

This project sought to accelerate the identification of specific chemicals that may be associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) by taking previously identified ASD-associated proteins, and cloning these proteins into a simple bacterial biosensor system. The sensor was designed such that growth of the resulting bacterial cells would depend on the conformation and activity of the cloned ASD-associated protein. The simplicity of the bacterial system would then facilitate the high-throughput screening of suspect chemicals for any effects on the cloned ASD-related protein. If effects were found (based on the resulting bacterial growth rates), then it is likely that those chemicals would have similar effects on that ASD-associated protein in human patients. Thus these bacterial biosensors would act as a highly simplified model for small pieces of ASD in humans, allowing studies of specific biochemical compounds and interactions that are associated with the disorder.