Biology is never simple. Geneticists have identified dozens of genetic mutations that are more common in autistic people than in the general population, but researchers like University of California- San Diego psychiatric systems biologist Lilia Iakoucheva are quickly discovering that genes are only part of the story.
When geneticists collect samples to analyze, they rarely take samples from neural tissue. When researchers describe a negative effect of a particular mutation, they're often describing an effect they observed in a blood cell or a skin cell and assuming that the same effect happens in neural cells as well.
Iakocheva wondered if that assumption was safe, so she teamed up with a group of scientists at the Dana Farber Cancer who study protein interaction networks to find out.