Abnormal neurogensis in the hippocampus of a mouse model of fragile X syndromes

B Eadie, B Christie

Abstract


Fragile X syndrome is the most common inherited form of mental retardation. It is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is similar in clinical presentation to autism spectrum disorder. However, unlike autism, Fragile X syndrome is caused by the silencing of a single gene, and in recent years, a mouse model of Fragile X syndrome has been generated by deletion of the Fmr1 gene. Surprisingly, a clear neurobiological basis for the learning impairment observed in both these knockout mice and patients has been difficult to elucidate. We hypothesized that neurogenesis, a process that continues into adulthood in the hippocampus, may be abnormal in this syndrome. Support for such a hypothesis comes from the findings that these new neurons may disproportionately contribute to synaptic plasticity in networks engaged during learning and memory. We have shown that the survival of new cells in the hippocampus of young Fmr1 knockout mice is significantly decreased in the ventral hippocampus, a sub-region which may be more involved with emotional, rather than, spatial memory. Further experiments are being conducted to assess the differentiation of these new cells into neurons and glia. We are also characterizing the normal expression of the Fmr1 gene product, FMRP, across the phases of neurogenesis in control mice. In conclusion, we have discovered a clear impairment in a process that may be critical to emotionally-significant learning and memory in a mouse model of Fragile X syndrome.



DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.25011/cim.v30i4.2850

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