Identification of FMR1-regulated molecular networks in human neurodevelopment

Genome Res. 2020 Mar;30(3):361-374. doi: 10.1101/gr.251405.119. Epub 2020 Mar 16.


RNA-binding proteins (RNA-BPs) play critical roles in development and disease to regulate gene expression. However, genome-wide identification of their targets in primary human cells has been challenging. Here, we applied a modified CLIP-seq strategy to identify genome-wide targets of the FMRP translational regulator 1 (FMR1), a brain-enriched RNA-BP, whose deficiency leads to Fragile X Syndrome (FXS), the most prevalent inherited intellectual disability. We identified FMR1 targets in human dorsal and ventral forebrain neural progenitors and excitatory and inhibitory neurons differentiated from human pluripotent stem cells. In parallel, we measured the transcriptomes of the same four cell types upon FMR1 gene deletion. We discovered that FMR1 preferentially binds long transcripts in human neural cells. FMR1 targets include genes unique to human neural cells and associated with clinical phenotypes of FXS and autism. Integrative network analysis using graph diffusion and multitask clustering of FMR1 CLIP-seq and transcriptional targets reveals critical pathways regulated by FMR1 in human neural development. Our results demonstrate that FMR1 regulates a common set of targets among different neural cell types but also operates in a cell type-specific manner targeting distinct sets of genes in human excitatory and inhibitory neural progenitors and neurons. By defining molecular subnetworks and validating specific high-priority genes, we identify novel components of the FMR1 regulation program. Our results provide new insights into gene regulation by a critical neuronal RNA-BP in human neurodevelopment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder / genetics
  • Cell Line
  • Chromatin Immunoprecipitation Sequencing
  • Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein / genetics
  • Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein / metabolism*
  • Fragile X Syndrome / genetics
  • Gene Deletion
  • Gene Regulatory Networks
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neural Stem Cells / cytology
  • Neural Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Neurogenesis
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / cytology
  • Prosencephalon / cytology
  • Prosencephalon / metabolism
  • Transcriptome


  • FMR1 protein, human
  • Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein