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J Med Invest. 2000 Aug;47(3-4):101-7.

Molecular mechanisms of fragile X syndrome.

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Institute for Genome Research, University of Tokushima, Japan.


Fragile X syndrome is the most common form of inherited mental retardation Mutations which abolish expression of an X-linked gene, FMR1, result in pathogenesis of the disease. FMR1 encodes a cytoplasmic RNA-binding protein which interacts with two autosomal homologs, FXR1 and FXR2. These proteins are highly expressed in neurons. In addition, the FMR1/FXR proteins are associated with ribosomes. Given their RNA-binding activity and association with ribosomes, these proteins are hypothesized to bind to specific RNAs and regulate their expression at translational levels in a manner critical for correct development of neurons. Much progress has been made in FMR1 research over the past several years, but little light has yet to be shed on the physiological function of these proteins. It will be critical to define the biochemical properties of these proteins, and identify potential downstream targets to clarify the molecular mechanisms underlying the potential roles of these proteins in translation. A basic understanding of the function of this new family of RNA-binding proteins should then allow us to begin to address the question of how the lack of FMR1 expression leads to symptoms in fragile X syndrome.

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