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Biochemistry. 2006 Aug 29;45(34):10385-93.

Alternative splicing modulates protein arginine methyltransferase-dependent methylation of fragile X syndrome mental retardation protein.

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Biochemical Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory, Department of Molecular Biology, New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities, 1050 Forest Hill Road, Staten Island, New York 10314, USA.


The fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP) is an RNA binding protein that is methylated by an endogenous methyltransferase in rabbit reticulocyte lysates. We mapped the region of methylation to the C-terminal arginine-glycine-rich residues encoded by FMR1 exon 15. We additionally demonstrated that mutation of R(544) to K reduced the endogenous methylation by more than 80%, while a comparable mutant R(546)-K reduced the endogenous methylation by 20%. These mutations had no effect on the subcellular distribution of FMRP, recapitulating previous results using the methyltransferase inhibitor adenosine-2',3'-dialdehyde. Using purified recombinant protein arginine methyltransferases (PRMTs), we showed that the C-terminal domain could be methylated by PRMT1, PRMT3, and PRMT4 in vitro and that both the R(544)-K mutant and the R(546)-K mutant were refractory toward these enzymes. We also report that truncating the N-terminal 12 residues encoded by FMR1 exon 15, which occurs naturally via alternative splicing, had no effect on FMRP methylation, demonstrating conclusively that phosphorylation of serine residue 500 (S(500)), one of the 12 residues, was not required for methylation. Nevertheless, truncating 13 additional amino acids, as occurs in the smallest alternatively spliced variant of FMR1 exon 15, reduced methylation by more than 85%. This suggests that differential expression and methylation of the FMRP exon 15 variants may be an important means of regulating target mRNA translation, which is consonant with recently demonstrated functional effects mediated by inhibiting FMRP methylation in cultured cells.

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