The fragile X syndrome

J Inherit Metab Dis. 1997 Jun;20(2):139-51. doi: 10.1023/a:1005392319533.


The fragile X syndrome is caused by the amplification of a polymorphic CGG repeat in the 5' untranslated region of the FMR1 gene and is the most common form of inherited mental retardation. When the repeat is amplified beyond 200 repeat units, the repeat and the FMR1 promoter region are methylated. As a result of this methylation the gene is silenced and no FMR1 gene product (FMRP) is translated. The lack of expression of FMRP in the fragile X syndrome causes the fragile X phenotype. A mouse model for the fragile X syndrome (knockout for FMRP) has been generated to study the pathological mechanisms leading to the symptoms seen in fragile X patients. FMRP is widely expressed in different tissues and localized predominantly in the cytoplasm associated with the 60S ribosomal subunit. The protein has RNA binding properties and possibly shuttles between cytoplasm and nucleus. The target signals necessary for this intracellular transport, like a nuclear location signal and a nuclear export signal, are present in FMRP. FMRP is also able to bind to other proteins by using specific sequence domains present in the protein. The coiled-coil structures formed by these domains are known to be involved in protein-protein interaction. In this review we postulate that FMRP is involved in the transport of RNA and/or proteins from the nucleus to the cytoplasm.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein
  • Fragile X Syndrome* / genetics
  • Fragile X Syndrome* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / genetics


  • FMR1 protein, human
  • FXR1 protein, human
  • FXR2 protein, human
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein