Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Understanding Fragile X syndrome with the blink of an eye

04.08.2005


While researchers have long known the genetic defect underlying Fragile X syndrome, they are still tracing how that defect creates the complex mix of mental retardation, hyperactive behavior, attention deficits, and other problems in the disorder. Fragile X is particularly important because it is the most common single-gene cause of mental retardation--affecting about 1 in 4000 males and 1 in 8000 females in the U.S.



In an article in the August 4, 2005, issue of Neuron, researchers led by Chris De Zeeuw of Erasmus University Rotterdam report that they have pinpointed a specific cause of defects in motor learning in Fragile X patients. Their work represents the first investigation of the role of abnormalities in the brain’s cerebellum in Fragile X syndrome.

Fragile X syndrome is caused by a defect in the Fragile X mental retardation 1 (Fmr1) gene, which in turns produces a nonfunctioning protein, FMRP. In their studies, De Zeeuw and colleagues studied the behavioral effects on motor learning and the effects on neurons in the cerebellum of knocking out this gene.


They found that mice lacking the gene showed deficits in a particular motor learning task known to be largely controlled by the cerebellum. In this "eyeblink conditioning" task, the mice were taught to associate a stimulus such as a tone with a puff of air on their eye, and the blink response was measured as an indication of how well the animals could learn the task. The researchers found that mice completely lacking the Fmr1 gene showed deficits in the motor learning task. But most importantly, the researchers also found that mice lacking the Fmr1 gene only in specific neurons, called Purkinje cells, in the cerebellum showed the deficit.

Detailed electrophysiological studies of Purkinje cells in such mutant mice revealed that the cells showed an enhanced weakening of their signaling connections--called long-term depression. The researchers also found that the Purkinje cells showed abnormalities in structures called dendrites, which are the branches from nerve cells that contain the receiving stations for signals from other neurons.

When the researchers conducted similar eyeblink conditioning tests in Fragile X patients, they found the same severe deficits.

And when the researchers created a mathematical model of long-term depression, they found that they could link alteration in signaling between neurons in the cerebellum with impairment in motor learning processes.

"Thus, while a lack of FMRP in areas such as the cerebral cortex, amygdala, and hippocampus may induce cognitive symptoms in Fragile X syndrome, the current data allow us to conclude that a lack of functional FMRP in cerebellar P cells may equally well lead to deficits in motor learning in Fragile X patients," concluded the researchers.

Heidi Hardman | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cell.com

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

nachricht How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>