NEUROSCIENCE: Of RNA, Rhythms, and Arborization

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Science  28 Jun 2002:
Vol. 296, Issue 5577, pp. 2299d
DOI: 10.1126/science.296.5577.2299d

Fragile X syndrome is an inherited disorder that causes mental retardation in humans. Effects of mutation in the fmr1 gene range from abnormal neurite morphology to alterations in the sleep-wake cycle. The FMR1 protein binds RNA selectively, and it has been suggested to participate in messenger RNA processing. Morales et al. and Dockendorff et al. have examined the function of the homologous protein dFMR1 (or dFXR) in Drosophila. These authors show that, as in mammals, dFMR1 is expressed in brain neurons, where it affects neurite morphology and axonal guidance; the dorsal cluster and lateral neurons show more abnormalities than do photoreceptor neurons, which correlates with alterations in eclosion and circadian rhythms. It appears that dFMR1 activity is required downstream of the molecular pacemaker, but the central questions of which RNA molecules are targeted and how these regulate neuronal development remain. — PJH

Neuron 34, 961; 973 (2002).

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