This grant provides support for an NIH Autism Center of Excellence (ACE). This project is one of four that are part of the University of California, San Diego ACE. One major goal of this study is to identify, in postmortem brain tissue, distinct gene expression profiles of autism that can implicate risk genes for this highly heritable disorder. This will include validating some suspected risk genes for autism (e.g., genes in the apoptosis, neurogenesis, and Drosophila wingless homolog [wnf] pathways), as well as finding new candidate genes by observing patterns of expression of the entire human transcriptome in eight distinct brain regions. A second major goal is to identify, in circulating blood cells, a validated gene expression profile of autism that can be developed as a diagnostic tool to improve its identification and early treatment. The identification of risk genes for autism should facilitate the development of novel therapeutics, while the eventual development of a biological marker system for autism would greatly enhance the efficiency of current diagnostic methods, and it likely would facilitate the search for additional etiologic factors in the disorder.