Epigenetics Podcast podcast

Differential Methylated Regions in Autism Spectrum Disorders (Janine La Salle)

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In this episode of the Epigenetics Podcast, we talked with Janine La Salle from UC Davis about her work on differential methylated regions in autism spectrum disorders.

In our discussion, Janine LaSalle highlights her work on the placental epigenetic signature, which offers insights into the impact of fetal exposures and gene-environment interactions during the perinatal period. She emphasizes the placenta's value as a surrogate tissue for understanding human diseases. Her research on DNA methylation in the placenta across different mammalian species reveals consistent patterns in partially methylated and highly methylated domains. She explains the critical role of higher methylation levels in specific regions for gene expression and how this knowledge helps trace the placenta's developmental history.

The conversation then delves into Dr. LaSalle's research on the link between placental DNA methylation and autism. Through epigenome-wide association studies, she discovered a novel autism gene and explored the effects of prenatal exposures on DNA methylation profiles. Additionally, she discusses the impact of maternal obesity on offspring neurodevelopment. Ultimately, the goal of her research is to contribute to precision public health and preventative healthcare with epigenetic signatures offering high potential for predicting and preventing future health problems.



  • Schroeder, D. I., Blair, J. D., Lott, P., Yu, H. O., Hong, D., Crary, F., Ashwood, P., Walker, C., Korf, I., Robinson, W. P., & LaSalle, J. M. (2013). The human placenta methylome. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110(15), 6037–6042. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1215145110

  • Zhu, Y., Gomez, J. A., Laufer, B. I., Mordaunt, C. E., Mouat, J. S., Soto, D. C., Dennis, M. Y., Benke, K. S., Bakulski, K. M., Dou, J., Marathe, R., Jianu, J. M., Williams, L. A., Gutierrez Fugón, O. J., Walker, C. K., Ozonoff, S., Daniels, J., Grosvenor, L. P., Volk, H. E., Feinberg, J. I., … LaSalle, J. M. (2022). Placental methylome reveals a 22q13.33 brain regulatory gene locus associated with autism. Genome biology, 23(1), 46. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13059-022-02613-1

  • Laufer, B. I., Hasegawa, Y., Zhang, Z., Hogrefe, C. E., Del Rosso, L. A., Haapanen, L., Hwang, H., Bauman, M. D., Van de Water, J., Taha, A. Y., Slupsky, C. M., Golub, M. S., Capitanio, J. P., VandeVoort, C. A., Walker, C. K., & LaSalle, J. M. (2022). Multi-omic brain and behavioral correlates of cell-free fetal DNA methylation in macaque maternal obesity models. Nature communications, 13(1), 5538. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-33162-7

  • Coulson, R. L., Yasui, D. H., Dunaway, K. W., Laufer, B. I., Vogel Ciernia, A., Zhu, Y., Mordaunt, C. E., Totah, T. S., & LaSalle, J. M. (2018). Snord116-dependent diurnal rhythm of DNA methylation in mouse cortex. Nature communications, 9(1), 1616. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-03676-0

  • Neier, K., Grant, T. E., Palmer, R. L., Chappell, D., Hakam, S. M., Yasui, K. M., Rolston, M., Settles, M. L., Hunter, S. S., Madany, A., Ashwood, P., Durbin-Johnson, B., LaSalle, J. M., & Yasui, D. H. (2021). Sex disparate gut microbiome and metabolome perturbations precede disease progression in a mouse model of Rett syndrome. Communications biology, 4(1), 1408. https://doi.org/10.1038/s42003-021-02915-3


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