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Hippocampus. 2012 Jun;22(6):1220-4. doi: 10.1002/hipo.20989. Epub 2011 Nov 30.

Impaired survival of neural progenitor cells in dentate gyrus of adult mice lacking fMRP.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, College of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL 60612, USA.


Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is the most common form of inherited intellectual disability in humans. Individuals affected with the disorder exhibit a deficiency of the fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP), due to transcriptional silencing of the Fmr1 gene. It is widely accepted that learning deficits in FXS result from impaired synaptic function and/or plasticity in the brain. Interestingly, recent evidence suggests that conditional knockout of Fmr1 in neural progenitor cells in mice impairs hippocampal neurogenesis, which in turn contributes to learning impairments. To examine the nature of the neurogenic impairments and determine whether they impact the morphology of the dentate gyrus, we assessed the extent of neural progenitor cell proliferation, survival, and differentiation in older adult Fmr1 knockout mice. Here, we show that the number of fast-proliferating cells in the subgranular layer of the dentate gyrus, as well as the subsequent survival of these cells, are dramatically reduced in Fmr1 knockout mice. In addition, the number of mature neurons in the granule layer of the dentate gyrus of these mice is significantly smaller than in wild type littermate controls, suggesting that impaired proliferation and survival of neural progenitor cells compromises the structure of the dentate gyrus. Impaired adult neurogenesis may underlie, at least in part, the learning deficits that characterize fragile X syndrome.

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