Fragile X syndrome: loss of local mRNA regulation alters synaptic development and function

Neuron. 2008 Oct 23;60(2):201-14. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2008.10.004.


Fragile X syndrome is the most common inherited form of cognitive deficiency in humans and perhaps the best-understood single cause of autism. A trinucleotide repeat expansion, inactivating the X-linked FMR1 gene, leads to the absence of the fragile X mental retardation protein. FMRP is a selective RNA-binding protein that regulates the local translation of a subset of mRNAs at synapses in response to activation of Gp1 metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) and possibly other receptors. In the absence of FMRP, excess and dysregulated mRNA translation leads to altered synaptic function and loss of protein synthesis-dependent plasticity. Recent evidence indicates the role of FMRP in regulated mRNA transport in dendrites. New studies also suggest a possible local function of FMRP in axons that may be important for guidance, synaptic development, and formation of neural circuits. The understanding of FMRP function at synapses has led to rationale therapeutic approaches.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport, Active / genetics
  • Brain / abnormalities
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein / genetics
  • Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein / metabolism*
  • Fragile X Syndrome / genetics*
  • Fragile X Syndrome / metabolism*
  • Fragile X Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Neurites / metabolism
  • Neuronal Plasticity / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate / genetics
  • Synaptic Transmission / genetics*


  • FMR1 protein, human
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate
  • metabotropic glutamate receptor type 1
  • Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein