Bachelor of Medicine, Peking University Health Science Center (2010)
Doctor of Philosophy, Pennsylvania State University (2016)
Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is the leading monogenic cause of autism and intellectual disability. FXS is caused by loss of expression of fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP), an RNA-binding protein that regulates translation of numerous mRNA targets, some of which are present at synapses. While protein synthesis deficits have long been postulated as an etiology of FXS, how FMRP loss affects distributions of newly synthesized proteins is unknown. Here we investigated the role of FMRP in regulating expression of new copies of the synaptic protein PSD95 in an in vitro model of synaptic plasticity. We find that local BDNF application promotes persistent accumulation of new PSD95 at stimulated synapses and dendrites of cultured neurons, and that this accumulation is absent in FMRP-deficient mouse neurons. New PSD95 accumulation at sites of BDNF stimulation does not require known mechanisms regulating FMRP-mRNA interactions but instead requires the PI3K-mTORC1-S6K1 pathway. Surprisingly, in FMRP-deficient neurons, BDNF induction of new PSD95 accumulation can be restored by mTORC1-S6K1 blockade, suggesting that constitutively high mTORC1-S6K1 activity occludes PSD95 regulation by BDNF and that alternative pathways exist to mediate induction when mTORC1-S6K1 is inhibited. This study provides direct evidence for deficits in local protein synthesis and accumulation of newly synthesized protein in response to local stimulation in FXS, and supports mTORC1-S6K1 pathway inhibition as a potential therapeutic approach for FXS.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1812056116
View details for PubMedID 31118285
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