Fragile X premutation disorder is caused by CGG triplet repeat expansions in the 5' untranslated region of FMR1 mRNA. The question of how expanded CGG repeats cause disease is a subject of continuing debate. Our work indicates that CGG-repeat structures compete with regulatory BC1 RNA for access to RNA transport factor hnRNP A2. As a result, BC1 RNA is mislocalized in vivo, as its synapto-dendritic presence is severely diminished in brains of CGG-repeat knock-in animals (a premutation mouse model). Lack of BC1 RNA is known to cause seizure activity and cognitive dysfunction. Our working hypothesis thus predicted that absence, or significantly reduced presence, of BC1 RNA in synapto-dendritic domains of premutation animal neurons would engender cognate phenotypic alterations. Testing this prediction, we established epileptogenic susceptibility and cognitive impairments as major phenotypic abnormalities of CGG premutation mice. In CA3 hippocampal neurons of such animals, synaptic release of glutamate elicits neuronal hyperexcitability in the form of group I metabotropic glutamate receptor-dependent prolonged epileptiform discharges. CGG-repeat knock-in animals are susceptible to sound-induced seizures and are cognitively impaired as revealed in the Attentional Set Shift Task. These phenotypic disturbances occur in young-adult premutation animals, indicating that a neurodevelopmental deficit is an early-initial manifestation of the disorder. The data are consistent with the notion that RNA mislocalization can contribute to pathogenesis.

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Department of Clinical Genetics

Muslimov, I.A. (Ilham A.), Eom, T. (Taesun), Iacoangeli, A. (Anna), Chuang, S.-C. (Shih-Chieh), Hukema, R., Willemsen, R., … Tiedge, H. (Henri). (2018). BC RNA mislocalization in the fragile X premutation. eNeuro, 5(2). doi:10.1523/ENEURO.0091-18.2018