Project: Involvement of the insula in the Autism neurodevelopmental disorder

Acronym CANSHANK (Reference Number: NEURON_NDD-124)
Project Topic Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a polygenic heritable multifactorial lifelong disorder and the mechanisms involved are far from being understood. The insular cortex (IC) is an important brain communication hub that seems involved in the pathophysiology of ASD. It contains different cell types, such as astroglial cells, glutamatergic and GABAergic neurons that express endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors, which also seem to participate in ASD. Here, we will investigate the cell type-specific involvement of IC endocannabinoid signaling in the mechanisms underlying ASD. We will combine a well-recognized mouse model of ASD, the deletion of Shank3, with complementary experimental approaches, including different genetic mouse models, electrophysiological techniques, behavioral phenotyping, viral strategies to target specific cell types, endocannabinoid dynamics, and bioenergetic studies. These techniques will bring valuable information to better understand the precise mechanisms underlying ASD. Moreover, we will test the translational nature of the mechanisms identified in mice through studies on human cerebral organoids derived from SHANK3-deficient patients and healthy controls. The inclusion of SHANK3 haploinsufficiency/Phelan McDermid patient organization will provide a direct transfer of the results. Our project will add new insights for an in-depth understanding of the brain pathways involved in ASD, which may open new therapeutical approaches.
Network NEURON Cofund2
Call Neuron Cofund2 Joint Call 2021

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 Universitat Pompeu Fabra Coordinator Spain
2 Leibniz Institute of Resilience Research Partner Germany
3 University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg-University Partner Germany
4 INSERM U 1215 Partner France