BACKGROUND:Autism spectrum disorders (ASDS) are frequently occurring disorders diagnosed by deficits in three core functional areas: social skills, communication, and behaviours and/or interests. Mental retardation frequently accompanies the most severe forms of ASDs, while overall ASDs are more commonly diagnosed in males. Most ASDs have a genetic origin and one gene recently implicated in the etiology of autism is the Deleted-In-Autism-1 (DIA1) gene. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:Using a bioinformatics-based approach, we have identified a human gene closely related to DIA1, we term DIA1R (DIA1-Related). While DIA1 is autosomal (chromosome 3, position 3q24), DIA1R localizes to the X chromosome at position Xp11.3 and is known to escape X-inactivation. The gene products are of similar size, with DIA1 encoding 430, and DIA1R 433, residues. At the amino acid level, DIA1 and DIA1R are 62% similar overall (28% identical), and both encode signal peptides for targeting to the secretory pathway. Both genes are ubiquitously expressed, including in fetal and adult brain tissue. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:Examination of published literature revealed point mutations in DIA1R are associated with X-linked mental retardation (XLMR) and DIA1R deletion is associated with syndromes with ASD-like traits and/or XLMR. Together, these results support a model where the DIA1 and DIA1R gene products regulate molecular traffic through the cellular secretory pathway or affect the function of secreted factors, and functional deficits cause disorders with ASD-like symptoms and/or mental retardation.