Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is caused by lack of expression of fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP), the product of the Fmr1 gene. In many cases FXS is associated with abnormalities in CNS myelination. Although FMRP is expressed in oligodendrocyte progenitor cells and immature oligodendrocytes (OLGs) previous studies have not detected it in mature, myelin-producing OLGs. FMRP represses translation of myelin basic protein (MBP) RNA in vitro and is believed to prevent premature MBP expression in immature OLGs. Lack of FMRP in FXS could lead to premature myelination and/or myelin abnormalities. Here we show that FMRP is expressed in mature, MBP-positive OLGs of rodents and in MBP-positive human OLGs. We confirm that FMRP is a translational repressor of MBP mRNA in vitro, but at concentrations likely too high to be physiologically relevant in vivo. We find MBP expression in cultured Fmr1 KO OLGs to be similar to wild type, and expression of MBP and other myelin proteins in brain homogenates of the Fmr1 KO mouse to be similar to wild type before, during, and after the period of active myelination. These results suggest that while FMRP is expressed in mature OLGs, myelin abnormalities caused by lack of FMRP expression in FXS are not recapitulated in rodents.
Keywords: Fragile X mental retardation protein; Fragile X syndrome; Myelin; Oligodendrocyte; Translation.