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J Biol Chem. 2008 Feb 29;283(9):5598-610. Epub 2007 Dec 19.

In vitro and in cellulo evidences for association of the survival of motor neuron complex with the fragile X mental retardation protein.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Maturation des ARN et Enzymologie MolĂ©culaire, UMR 7567 CNRS-UHP Nancy I, FacultĂ© des Sciences, BP 239, 54506 Vandoeuvre-les-Nancy Cedex.


Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is caused by reduced levels of the survival of motor neuron (SMN) protein. Although the SMN complex is essential for assembly of spliceosomal U small nuclear RNPs, it is still not understood why reduced levels of the SMN protein specifically cause motor neuron degeneration. SMN was recently proposed to have specific functions in mRNA transport and translation regulation in neuronal processes. The defective protein in Fragile X mental retardation syndrome (FMRP) also plays a role in transport of mRNPs and in their translation. Therefore, we examined possible relationships of SMN with FMRP. We observed granules containing both transiently expressed red fluorescent protein(RFP)-tagged SMN and green fluorescent protein(GFP)-tagged FMRP in cell bodies and processes of rat primary neurons of hypothalamus in culture. By immunoprecipitation experiments, we detected an association of FMRP with the SMN complex in human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells and in murine motor neuron MN-1 cells. Then, by in vitro experiments, we demonstrated that the SMN protein is essential for this association. We showed that the COOH-terminal region of FMRP, as well as the conserved YG box and the region encoded by exon 7 of SMN, are required for the interaction. Our findings suggest a link between the SMN complex and FMRP in neuronal cells.

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