Bcl-xL Inhibition as a Therapeutic Strategy for Fragile X Syndrome

Scientists have found increases in the numbers of neurons in brain regions of autistic children, suggesting a problem in developmental programmed cell death pathways. One of the most important effectors of neuronal survival during brain development is the “anti-cell death” protein Bcl-xL. While the normal function of Bcl-xL is to maintain a healthy number of neurons and synapses, over-expressed Bcl-xL can cause an overabundance of synaptic connections. This may be happening in fragile X.

Kendal Broadie

Matrix Metalloproteinase Therapeutic Treatments for Fragile X Syndrome

With a $157,000 grant from the FRAXA Research Foundation in 201202013, Dr. Kendal Broadie and Dr. Cheryl Gatto worked to define the distinct but also overlapping roles for MMP-1 and MMP-2 in synaptic structural and functional development. In drug studies with fragile X fruit flies, they will be testing a range of MMPIs in drug treatments to compare effectiveness during development and at maturity, in order to define the contributions of FXS developmental impairments and adult recovery/plasticity.

Kimberly Huber, Ph.D., FRAXA Investigator

Evaluation of CamKII Dependent Regulation of mGluR5-Homer Scaffolds as a Potential Therapeutic for Fragile X Syndrome

Dr. Huber made the original discovery of the mGluR Theory of Fragile X when she was a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Mark Bear, with her first FRAXA grant in 2000. Dr. Huber has received $474,300 in grants from FRAXA Research Foundation since then, researching molecular mechanisms and developmental switches in fragile X syndrome. She has worked with 4 FRAXA Postdoctoral Fellows (Elena Nosyreva, PhD in 2006; Jennifer Roseni, PhD in 2007; Tong Zang, PhD in 2010-2011; and Weirui Guo, PhD in 2012-2013) and has received supporting funds from The Meadows Foundation of/for Texas.

Synaptic Actin Signaling Pathways in Fragile X

With a $163,356 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation in 2010-12, Dr. Scott Soderling and Dr. Hwan Kim at Duke University bred the standard mouse model of fragile X syndrome to their lines of mice that express reduced levels of several key proteins that modulate synaptic actin. These compound mutant mice were compared to FXS mice to determine if genetically impairing pathways to the actin cytoskeleton can rescue deficits in the FXS mice.

Genetic and Pharmacologic Manipulation of PI3K Activity in FXS: Assessing Potential Therapeutic Value

Dr. Bassell’s team has developed powerful molecular genetic techniques to track mRNAs and FMRP particles as they move through these processes in brain tissue from fragile X knockout mice. They have shown that a specific intracellular signaling pathway, the PI3K/mTOR pathway, is overactive in the absence of FMRP. This pathway is involved in mediating many neuronal neurotransmitter receptors. This project will test new drugs in development which inhibit an enzyme known as PI3 kinase, a part of the pathway, and have the potential to normalize neuronal function in fragile X.