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Reduction of Fmr1 mRNA Levels Rescues Pathological Features in Cortical Neurons in a Model of FXTAS

Malgorzata Drozd, Sébastien Delhaye, Thomas Maurin, Sara Castagnola, Mauro Grossi, Frédéric Brau, Marielle Jarjat, Rob Willemsen, Maria Capovilla, Renate K. Hukema, Enzo Lalli, Sciprofile linkBarbara Bardoni
Published: 1 December 2019
Molecular Therapy - Nucleic Acids , Volume 18, pp 546-553; doi:10.1016/j.omtn.2019.09.018

Abstract: Fragile X-associated tremor ataxia syndrome (FXTAS) is a rare disorder associated to the presence of the fragile X premutation, a 55–200 CGG repeat expansion in the 5′ UTR of the FMR1 gene. Two main neurological phenotypes have been described in carriers of the CGG premutation: (1) neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), social deficits, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD); and (2) after 50 years old, the FXTAS phenotype. This neurodegenerative disorder is characterized by ataxia and a form of parkinsonism. The molecular pathology of this disorder is characterized by the presence of elevated levels of Fragile X Mental Retardation 1 (FMR1) mRNA, presence of a repeat-associated non-AUG (RAN) translated peptide, and FMR1 mRNA-containing nuclear inclusions. Whereas in the past FXTAS was mainly considered as a late-onset disorder, some phenotypes of patients and altered learning and memory behavior of a mouse model of FXTAS suggested that this disorder involves neurodevelopment. To better understand the physiopathological role of the increased levels of Fmr1 mRNA during neuronal differentiation, we used a small interfering RNA (siRNA) approach to reduce the abundance of this mRNA in cultured cortical neurons from the FXTAS mouse model. Morphological alterations of neurons were rescued by this approach. This cellular phenotype is associated to differentially expressed proteins that we identified by mass spectrometry analysis. Interestingly, phenotype rescue is also associated to the rescue of the abundance of 29 proteins that are involved in various pathways, which represent putative targets for early therapeutic approaches.
Keywords: FXTAS; premutation; Fmr1 mRNA; dendritic arborization; Tia1; ROAA; Hnrnpll; Aldh4a1/P5CDH; dendrtic spine

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