The Fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP) is involved in many cellular processes and it regulates synaptic and network development in neurons. Its absence is known to lead to intellectual disability, with a wide range of comorbidities including autism. Over the past decades, FMRP research focused on abnormalities both in glutamatergic and GABAergic signaling, and an altered balance between excitation and inhibition has been hypothesized to underlie the clinical consequences of absence of the protein. Using Fmrp knockout mice, we studied an in vitro model of cortical microcircuitry and observed that the loss of FMRP largely affected the electrophysiological correlates of network development and maturation but caused less alterations in single-cell phenotypes. The loss of FMRP also caused a structural increase in the number of excitatory synaptic terminals. Using a mathematical model, we demonstrated that the combination of an increased excitation and reduced inhibition describes best our experimental observations during the ex vivo formation of the network connections.
Keywords: fragile X; microelectrode arrays; network bursts; patch-clamp; spontaneous activity.
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