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Brain Res Bull. 2001 Oct-Nov 1;56(3-4):367-73.

Fragile X syndrome and Friedreich's ataxia: two different paradigms for repeat induced transcript insufficiency.

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  • 1Section on Genomic Structure and Function, Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Biology, National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-0830, USA.


DNA repeat expansion is the genetic basis for a growing number of neurological disorders. While the largest subset of these diseases results in an increase in the length of a polyglutamine tract in the protein encoded by the affected gene, the most common form of inherited mental retardation, fragile X syndrome, and the most common inherited ataxia, Friedreich's ataxia, are both caused by expansions that are transcribed but not translated. These expansions both decrease expression of the gene in which the expanded repeat is located, but they do so by quite different mechanisms. In fragile X syndrome, CGG. CCG expansion in the 5' untranslated region of the FMR1 gene leads to hypermethylation of the repeats and the adjacent CpG-rich promoter. Methylation prevents the binding of the transcription factor alpha-Pal/NRF-1, and may indirectly affect the binding of other factors via the formation of transcriptionally silent chromatin. In Friedreich's ataxia, GAA. TTC expansion in an intron of the FRDA gene reduces expression by interfering with transcription elongation. The model that best describes the available data is transcription-driven formation of a transient purine. purine. pyrimidine DNA triplex behind an advancing RNA polymerase. This structure lassoes the RNA polymerase that caused it, trapping the enzyme on the template.

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