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Genetic studies have linked a number of risk genes to autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Although the complex genetics underlying ASD likely involve interactions between many genes, some risk genes are singular drivers of autism-like behaviors in rodent models, particularly genes that guide synaptic development and function. One such ASD-associated gene encodes SHANK3, a scaffolding protein that organizes neurotransmitter receptors and their intracellular effectors in neuronal synapses. SHANK3-deficient display repetitive grooming behavior, as well as social interaction deficits and, are considered to be an experimental model for autism.

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