Biology of the fragile X mental retardation protein, an RNA-binding protein.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


E W Khandjian


Biochem Cell Biol, Volume 77, Issue 4, p.331-42 (1999)


Animals, Chromosome Banding, Disease Models, Animal, Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein, Fragile X Syndrome, Humans, Intellectual Disability, Mice, Nerve Tissue Proteins, RNA-Binding Proteins


<p>The fragile X syndrome, an X-linked disease, is the most frequent cause of inherited mental retardation. The syndrome results from the absence of expression of the FMR1 gene (fragile mental retardation 1) owing to the expansion of a CGG trinucleotide repeat located in the 5' untranslated region of the gene and the subsequent methylation of its CpG island. The FMR1 gene product (FMRP) is a cytoplasmic protein that contains two KH domains and one RGG box, characteristics of RNA-binding proteins. FMRP is associated with mRNP complexes containing poly(A)+mRNA within actively translating polyribosomes and contains nuclear localization and export signals making it a putative transporter (chaperone) of mRNA from the nucleus to the cytoplasm. FMRP is the archetype of a novel family of cytoplasmic RNA-binding proteins that includes FXR1P and FXR2P. Both of these proteins are very similar in overall structure to FMRP and are also associated with cytoplasmic mRNPs. Members of the FMR family are widely expressed in mouse and human tissues, albeit at various levels, and seem to play a subtle choreography of expression. FMRP is most abundant in neurons and is absent in muscle. FXR1P is strongly expressed in muscle and low levels are detected in neurons. The complex expression patterns of the FMR1 gene family in different cells and tissues suggest that independent, however similar, functions for each of the three FMR-related proteins might be expected in the selection and metabolism of tissue-specific classes of mRNA. The molecular mechanisms altered in cells lacking FMRP still remain to be elucidated as well as the putative role(s) of FXR1P and FXR2P as compensatory molecules.</p>

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