Downregulation of tonic GABAergic inhibition in a mouse model of fragile X syndrome

Cereb Cortex. 2009 Jul;19(7):1515-20. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhn159. Epub 2008 Sep 11.


The absence of fragile X mental retardation protein results in the fragile X syndrome (FXS), a common form of mental retardation associated with attention deficit, autistic behavior, and epileptic seizures. The phenotype of FXS is reproduced in fragile X mental retardation 1 (fmr1) knockout (KO) mice that have region-specific altered expression of some gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA(A)) receptor subunits. However, little is known about the characteristics of GABAergic inhibition in the subiculum of these animals. We employed patch-clamp recordings from subicular pyramidal cells in an in vitro slice preparation. In addition, semiquantitative polymerase chain reaction and western blot experiments were performed on subiculum obtained from wild-type (WT) and KO mice. We found that tonic GABA(A) currents were downregulated in fmr1 KO compared with WT neurons, whereas no significant differences were observed in phasic GABA(A) currents. Molecular biology analysis revealed that the tonic GABA(A) receptor subunits alpha5 and delta were underexpressed in the fmr1 KO mouse subiculum compared with WT. Because the subiculum plays a role in both cognitive functions and epileptic disorders, we propose that altered tonic inhibition in this structure contributes to the behavioral deficits and epileptic activity seen in FXS patients. This conclusion is in line with evidence implicating tonic GABA(A) inhibition in learning and memory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Down-Regulation
  • Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein / genetics
  • Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein / metabolism*
  • Fragile X Syndrome / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neural Inhibition*
  • Receptors, GABA-A / metabolism*
  • Synaptic Transmission*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism*


  • Fmr1 protein, mouse
  • Receptors, GABA-A
  • Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid