Skip to main content

Table 1 Recommended assays for ASD-related changes in rodent models

From: Optimizing the phenotyping of rodent ASD models: enrichment analysis of mouse and human neurobiological phenotypes associated with high-risk autism genes identifies morphological, electrophysiological, neurological, and behavioral features

Levels of analysis Specific assays
Molecular assays Focused biochemical and molecular assays directed at the targeted gene and pathway
Unbiased proteomic and genome-wide gene expression analysis, with pathway and network analysis
Nervous system morphology assays Gross pathology
Analyses of neuronal fate and neuronal migration including tract-tracing
Assessment of neuronal morphology, dendritic and spine integrity, and synaptic morphology
Electrophysiological assays Use of evoked field potentials to assess basal synaptic properties, short-term plasticity, long-term plasticity, and analysis of seizure-like activity
Patch-clamp recording for basic membrane properties, characterization of voltage- and ligand-gated ion channel currents, and assessment of spontaneous neurotransmission
Neurological assays General observations, spontaneous and elicited behaviors
Assessment of grip strength, sensitivity to pain, gait, accelerating rotarod, acoustic startle, and prepulse inhibition of acoustic startle
Analysis of seizure susceptibility
Higher-order behavioral assays Assessment of anxiety, open field/spontaneous locomotor behavior
Analysis of social interaction/recognition, including ultrasonic vocalizations
Assessment of learning and memory, including cued and contextual fear conditioning, Morris water maze, radial arm maze, and passive avoidance
Recording of behavioral stereotypes
  1. Based on a survey of findings, we conclude that five levels of analysis should be carried out on rodent ASD models. Four are derived from the unbiased enrichment analyses described in the main text and the fifth (molecular) is part of the standard and enhanced workup of novel model systems. In each of the five domains, specific assays are suggested, based on expert review of publications of at least 40 genes associated with electrophysiological, neurological, or higher behavioral features.