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Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2000 Jan;73(1):87-93.

Evidence for altered Fragile-X mental retardation protein expression in response to behavioral stimulation.

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Beckman Institute, University of Illinois, Urbana 61801, USA.


The Fragile-X mental retardation protein, the protein absent in Fragile-X syndrome, is synthesized near synapses upon neurotransmitter activation. Humans and mice lacking this protein exhibit abnormal dendritic spine lengths and numbers. Here we investigated Fragile-X protein levels in animals exposed to behavioral paradigms that induce neuronal morphological change. Fragile-X protein immunoreactivity was examined in visual cortices of rats reared in a complex environment for 10 or 20 days, motor cortices of rats trained on motor-skill tasks for 3 or 7 days, and either visual or motor cortices of inactive controls. Rats exposed to a complex environment for 20 days or trained for 7 days on motor-skill tasks exhibited increased Fragile-X protein immunoreactivity in visual or motor cortices, respectively. These results provide the first evidence for a behaviorally induced alteration of Fragile-X protein expression and are compatible with previous findings suggesting synaptic regulation of its expression. These results also strengthen the association of Fragile-X mental retardation protein expression with the alteration of synaptic structure.

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