Neuroscience

No Slacking Off

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Science  02 Jul 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5987, pp. 14-15
DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5987.14-d

Characteristics of the inherited mental disorder fragile X syndrome are deficiencies in learning, memory, and cognition. The condition results from the lack of fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP), which binds to RNA and to cytosolic proteins involved in protein synthesis. Brown et al. have found that FMRP binds to a third type of target: a membrane protein called Slack, which is a sodium-activated potassium channel. FMRP increased Slack channel activity in a Xenopus oocyte expression system and altered the pattern of electrical conductance, and sodium-dependent potassium channel conductance was reduced in cells isolated from the brain of mice lacking FMRP. These channels are known to maintain neuronal activity during high-frequency stimulation, and these findings point to a role for FMRP in sustaining a level and pattern of channel activity during repetitive neuronal stimulation.

Nat. Neurosci. 13, 10.1038/nn.2563 (2010).

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