Understanding the interaction of Fragile X mental retardation protein and kissing complex RNAs
Fragile X syndrome is the most common inherited form of mental retardation, affecting approximately 1 in 3600 males and 1 in 4000-6000 females. Fragile X syndrome results from loss of expression of the Fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP), the product of the FMR1 gene. Now, Drs. Robert and Jennifer Darnell and colleagues, from The Rockefeller University, report the uncovering of a new interaction between FMRP and messenger RNAs (mRNAs) containing a tertiary RNA structure termed a "kissing complex".
Their studies, published in the April 15th issue of Genes & Development, provide a new direction for efforts to understand how the loss of FMRP function leads to the complex behavioral and cognitive defects characteristic of Fragile X syndrome.
While the importance of identifying a function for FMRP has been clear for some time, what this function actually is has continued to evade researchers. FMRP is a protein characterized by the presence of three RNA binding domains: two tandem KH-type RNA binding domains and an RGG box. Scientists have focused on the identification of FMRP RNA ligands in an effort to understand FMRP function. This effort is particularly meaningful since FMRP is believed to regulate mRNA translation in the brain, and identifying the mRNA targets of this regulation would be a huge step in understanding how loss of this protein results in the varied and complex phenotypes of Fragile X syndrome.
Heather Cosel | EurekAlert!
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