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Scientists link fragile X tremor/ataxia syndrome to binding protein in RNA
Date:8/15/2007

D, Timmie professor and chair of human genetics at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Warren and his colleagues led an international team that discovered the FMR1 gene in 1991, later characterized the FMRP protein, and developed diagnostic tests for fragile X syndrome.

Drs. Jin and Warren earlier discovered (Neuron, 2003) that FXTAS is caused by elongated repeats of the CGG sequence in cells' RNA the molecules that translate the genetic code from DNA into proteins. In the current Neuron paper, Dr. Jin describes his discovery that the pur alpha protein, which is necessary for neuronal function and is involved in brain synapses tied to movement, is bound by the CGG trinucleotide repeats located in the RNA of the FMR1 gene.

Drs. Jin and Warren believe that because the repeated CGG sequences bind and sequester the pur alpha protein, the protein is not available for its normal function in the parts of the brain responsible for movement. The researchers also found that the pur alpha protein bound to CGG repeats becomes part of toxic brain aggregates, called inclusions, found in patients with neurodegeneration.

"Now that we have discovered a protein that is depleted by RNA in the premutation gene, we will try to identify more specifically how depletion of this protein can cause neurodegeneration, and we can use our fly model to conduct drug screening and begin to develop therapeutic drugs that could overcome this problem," says Dr. Jin.


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Contact: Holly Korschun
hkorsch@emory.edu
404-727-3990
Emory University
Source:Eurekalert

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