Impaired activity-dependent FMRP translation and enhanced mGluR-dependent LTD in Fragile X premutation mice

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Fragile X premutation-associated disorders, including Fragile X-associated Tremor Ataxia Syndrome, result from unmethylated CGG repeat expansions in the 5′ untranslated region (UTR) of the FMR1 gene. Premutation-sized repeats increase FMR1 transcription but impair rapid translation of the Fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP), which is absent in Fragile X Syndrome (FXS). Normally, FMRP binds to RNA and regulates metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR)-mediated synaptic translation, allowing for dendritic synthesis of several proteins. FMRP itself is also synthesized at synapses in response to mGluR activation. However, the role of activity-dependent translation of FMRP in synaptic plasticity and Fragile X-premutation-associated disorders is unknown. To investigate this question, we utilized a CGG knock-in mouse model of the Fragile X premutation with 120–150 CGG repeats in the mouse Fmr1 5′ UTR. These mice exhibit increased Fmr1 mRNA production but impaired FMRP translational efficiency, leading to a modest reduction in basal FMRP expression. Cultured hippocampal neurons and synaptoneurosomes derived from CGG KI mice demonstrate impaired FMRP translation in response to the group I mGluR agonist 3,5-dihydroxyphenylglycine. Electrophysiological analysis reveals enhanced mGluR-mediated long-term depression (mGluR-LTD) at CA3–CA1 synapses in acute hippocampal slices prepared from CGG KI mice relative to wild-type littermates, similar to Fmr1 knockout mice. However, unlike mGluR-LTD in mice completely lacking FMRP, mGluR-LTD in CGG knock-in mice remains dependent on new protein synthesis. These studies demonstrate partially overlapping synaptic plasticity phenotypes in mouse models of FXS and Fragile X premutation disorders and support a role for activity-dependent synthesis of FMRP in enduring forms of synaptic plasticity.

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