Blood expression profiles of fragile X premutation carriers identify candidate genes involved in neurodegenerative and infertility phenotypes

Neurobiol Dis. 2014 May:65:43-54. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2013.12.020. Epub 2014 Jan 10.


Male premutation carriers presenting between 55 and 200 CGG repeats in the Fragile-X-associated (FMR1) gene are at risk of developing Fragile X Tremor/Ataxia Syndrome (FXTAS), and females undergo Premature Ovarian Failure (POF1). Here, we have evaluated gene expression profiles from blood in male FMR1 premutation carriers and detected a strong deregulation of genes enriched in FXTAS relevant biological pathways, including inflammation, neuronal homeostasis and viability. Gene expression profiling distinguished between control individuals, carriers with FXTAS and carriers without FXTAS, with levels of expanded FMR1 mRNA being increased in FXTAS patients. In vitro studies in a neuronal cell model indicate that expression levels of expanded FMR1 5'-UTR are relevant in modulating the transcriptome. Thus, perturbations of the transcriptome may be an interplay between the CGG expansion size and FMR1 expression levels. Several deregulated genes (DFFA, BCL2L11, BCL2L1, APP, SOD1, RNF10, HDAC5, KCNC3, ATXN7, ATXN3 and EAP1) were validated in brain samples of a FXTAS mouse model. Downregulation of EAP1, a gene involved in the female reproductive system physiology, was confirmed in female carriers. Decreased levels were detected in female carriers with POF1 compared to those without POF1, suggesting that EAP1 levels contribute to ovarian insufficiency. In summary, gene expression profiling in blood has uncovered mechanisms that may underlie different pathological aspects of the premutation. A better understanding of the transcriptome dynamics in relation with expanded FMR1 mRNA expression levels and CGG expansion size may provide mechanistic insights into the disease process and a more accurate FXTAS diagnosis to the myriad of phenotypes associated with the premutation.

Keywords: Early at menopause 1 (EAP1); Fragile X Tremor/Ataxia Syndrome; Fragile X associated Premature Ovarian Insufficiency; Histone deacetylase 5 (HDAC5).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Infertility / genetics*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Microarray Analysis
  • Microfilament Proteins
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuroblastoma / pathology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / blood*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / genetics
  • Phenotype
  • Proteins / genetics
  • Proteins / metabolism
  • Securin / genetics
  • Securin / metabolism
  • Trinucleotide Repeat Expansion / genetics*


  • FMR1 protein, human
  • Microfilament Proteins
  • POF1B protein, human
  • Proteins
  • Securin
  • pituitary tumor-transforming protein 1, human
  • Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein