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Fragile X mental retardation protein regulates protein expression and mRNA translation of the potassium channel Kv4.2.

Christina Gross, Xiaodi Yao, Dan L Pong, Andreas Jeromin, Gary J Bassell

J. Neurosci., 2011 Apr 13 , 31, 5693-8

A prominent characteristic of the inherited intellectual impairment disease fragile X syndrome (FXS) is neuronal hyperexcitability, resulting in a variety of symptoms, such as hyperactivity, increased sensitivity to sensory stimuli, and a high incidence of epileptic seizures. These symptoms account for a significant part of the disease pattern, but the underlying molecular mechanisms of neuronal hyperexcitability in FXS remain poorly understood. FXS is caused by loss of expression of fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP), which regulates synaptic protein synthesis and is a key player to limit signaling pathways downstream of metabotropic glutamate receptors 1/5 (mGlu1/5). Recent findings suggest that FMRP might also directly regulate voltage-gated potassium channels. Here, we show that total and plasma membrane protein levels of Kv4.2, the major potassium channel regulating hippocampal neuronal excitability, are reduced in the brain of an FXS mouse model. Antagonizing mGlu5 activity with 2-methyl-6-(phenylethynyl)-pyridine (MPEP) partially rescues reduced surface Kv4.2 levels in Fmr1 knock-out (KO) mice, suggesting that excess mGlu1/5 signal activity contributes to Kv4.2 dysregulation. As an additional mechanism, we show that FMRP is a positive regulator of Kv4.2 mRNA translation and protein expression and associates with Kv4.2 mRNA in vivo and in vitro. Our results suggest that absence of FMRP-mediated positive control of Kv4.2 mRNA translation, protein expression, and plasma membrane levels might contribute to excess neuronal excitability in Fmr1 KO mice, and thus imply a potential mechanism underlying FXS-associated epilepsy.