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J Physiol. 2016 Oct 15;594(20):5861-5867. doi: 10.1113/JP270675. Epub 2016 May 5.

Fragile X mental retardation protein controls ion channel expression and activity.

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Department of Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK.


Fragile X-associated disorders are a family of genetic conditions resulting from the partial or complete loss of fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP). Among these disorders is fragile X syndrome, the most common cause of inherited intellectual disability and autism. FMRP is an RNA-binding protein involved in the control of local translation, which has pleiotropic effects, in particular on synaptic function. Analysis of the brain FMRP transcriptome has revealed hundreds of potential mRNA targets encoding postsynaptic and presynaptic proteins, including a number of ion channels. FMRP has been confirmed to bind voltage-gated potassium channels (Kv 3.1 and Kv 4.2) mRNAs and regulates their expression in somatodendritic compartments of neurons. Recent studies have uncovered a number of additional roles for FMRP besides RNA regulation. FMRP was shown to directly interact with, and modulate, a number of ion channel complexes. The sodium-activated potassium (Slack) channel was the first ion channel shown to directly interact with FMRP; this interaction alters the single-channel properties of the Slack channel. FMRP was also shown to interact with the auxiliary β4 subunit of the calcium-activated potassium (BK) channel; this interaction increases calcium-dependent activation of the BK channel. More recently, FMRP was shown to directly interact with the voltage-gated calcium channel, Cav 2.2, and reduce its trafficking to the plasma membrane. Studies performed on animal models of fragile X syndrome have revealed links between modifications of ion channel activity and changes in neuronal excitability, suggesting that these modifications could contribute to the phenotypes observed in patients with fragile X-associated disorders.

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