Principal investigator Hehuang "David" Xie, associate professor of epigenomics and computational biology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology and at the Fralin Life Sciences Institute, has been awarded a five-year R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to investigate the relationship among maternal folate intake, alterations in RNA methylation, and risk of autism spectrum disorders.

TITLE

Functional RNA Modifications, Micronutrient Exposure, Developmental Disabilities

FUNDING AGENCY
NIEHS

TOTAL AWARD

$1,948,095
Direct: $1,487,919
Indirect: $460,176

DURATION OF AWARD
5 years: Aug. 6, 2020 — May 31, 2025

KEY FACULTY PERSONNEL
PI
: Hehuang Xie
Co-PI: Xiaobin Wang, School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University
Co-I: Alexei Morozov, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC

SIGNFICANCE

The role of maternal folate status in child risk of autism has received great attention and is in debate. While many studies suggest beneficial effect of higher maternal folate intake against autism, a few studies raised concern about the potential harm of high prenatal folate intake. Our preliminary data suggest that maternal folate intake may have an impact on RNA methylation metabolism. This proposal aims at the determination of association among functional RNA methylation, maternal folate status, and child risk of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The methodologies developed by our study will be helpful to investigate molecular underpinnings of other micronutrients or toxicants on neuro-development outcomes.