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PLoS Biol. 2009 Jan 20;7(1):e16. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1000016.

A novel function for fragile X mental retardation protein in translational activation.

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Institut de Pharmacologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, Valbonne, France.


Fragile X syndrome, the most frequent form of inherited mental retardation, is due to the absence of Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein (FMRP), an RNA-binding protein involved in several steps of RNA metabolism. To date, two RNA motifs have been found to mediate FMRP/RNA interaction, the G-quartet and the "kissing complex," which both induce translational repression in the presence of FMRP. We show here a new role for FMRP as a positive modulator of translation. FMRP specifically binds Superoxide Dismutase 1 (Sod1) mRNA with high affinity through a novel RNA motif, SoSLIP (Sod1 mRNA Stem Loops Interacting with FMRP), which is folded as three independent stem-loop structures. FMRP induces a structural modification of the SoSLIP motif upon its interaction with it. SoSLIP also behaves as a translational activator whose action is potentiated by the interaction with FMRP. The absence of FMRP results in decreased expression of Sod1. Because it has been observed that brain metabolism of FMR1 null mice is more sensitive to oxidative stress, we propose that the deregulation of Sod1 expression may be at the basis of several traits of the physiopathology of the Fragile X syndrome, such as anxiety, sleep troubles, and autism.

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