Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein positively regulates PKA anchor Rugose and PKA activity to control actin assembly in learning/memory circuitry

Neurobiol Dis. 2019 Jul;127:53-64. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2019.02.004. Epub 2019 Feb 13.


Recent work shows Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein (FMRP) drives the translation of very large proteins (>2000 aa) mediating neurodevelopment. Loss of function results in Fragile X syndrome (FXS), the leading heritable cause of intellectual disability (ID) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Using the Drosophila FXS disease model, we discover FMRP positively regulates the translation of the very large A-Kinase Anchor Protein (AKAP) Rugose (>3000 aa), homolog of ASD-associated human Neurobeachin (NBEA). In the central brain Mushroom Body (MB) circuit, where Protein Kinase A (PKA) signaling is necessary for learning/memory, FMRP loss reduces Rugose levels and targeted FMRP overexpression elevates Rugose levels. Using a new in vivo transgenic PKA activity reporter (PKA-SPARK), we find FMRP loss reduces PKA activity in MB Kenyon cells whereas FMRP overexpression elevates PKA activity. Consistently, loss of Rugose reduces PKA activity, but Rugose overexpression has no independent effect. A well-established PKA output is regulation of F-actin cytoskeleton dynamics. In the FXS disease model, F-actin is aberrantly accumulated in MB lobes and single MB Kenyon cells. Consistently, Rugose loss results in similar F-actin accumulation. Moreover, targeted FMRP, Rugose and PKA overexpression all result in increased F-actin accumulation in the MB circuit. These findings uncover a FMRP-Rugose-PKA mechanism regulating actin cytoskeleton. This study reveals a novel FMRP mechanism controlling neuronal PKA activity, and demonstrates a shared mechanistic connection between FXS and NBEA associated ASD disease states, with a common link to PKA and F-actin misregulation in brain neural circuits. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) arises from a wide array of genetic lesions, and it is therefore critical to identify common underlying molecular mechanisms. Here, we link two ASD states; Neurobeachin (NBEA) associated ASD and Fragile X syndrome (FXS), the most common inherited ASD. Using established Drosophila disease models, we find Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein (FMRP) positively regulates translation of NBEA homolog Rugose, consistent with a recent advance showing FMRP promotes translation of very large proteins associated with ASD. FXS exhibits reduced cAMP induction, a potent activator of PKA, and Rugose/NBEA is a PKA anchor. Consistently, we find brain PKA activity strikingly reduced in both ASD models. We discover this pathway regulation controls actin cytoskeleton dynamics in brain neural circuits.

Keywords: A-Kinase Anchor Protein (AKAP); Drosophila; Fragile X syndrome (FXS); Mushroom Body; Neurobeachin (NBEA); Protein Kinase A (PKA).

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • A Kinase Anchor Proteins / metabolism*
  • Actins / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Drosophila
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein / genetics
  • Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein / metabolism*
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Mushroom Bodies / metabolism
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Up-Regulation


  • A Kinase Anchor Proteins
  • Actins
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • rg protein, Drosophila
  • Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases