Fragile X Fruit Fly Research Bears Fruit

Fragile X Fruit Fly Research Bears Fruit
Sean McBride, MD, PhD, and Thomas Jongens, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania Adapted from press release by University of Pennsylvania A new FRAXA-funded study shows how the hormone insulin – usually associated with diabetes — is involved in the daily activity patterns and learning deficits in the fruit fly model of Fragile X Syndrome (FXS). The study also reveal a metabolic pathway that can be targeted by new and already approved drugs to treat Fragile X patients, notably metformin. The scientists study the common fruitfly, Drosophila, whose genome contains a cousin, or homologue, of the human FMR1 gene called dfmr1. The lab of Thomas Jongens, PhD, an associate professor of Genetics, along with doctoral student Rachel Monyak and Sean McBride, MD, PhD, a psychiatrist at the Adult Developmental Disorders and Monogenic Disorders Clinic with Penn Behavioral Health, have been working with the fly model to find new therapies to treat the behavioralRead more

Fruit Flies to Model and Test Fragile X Treatments

Fruit Flies to Model and Test Fragile X Treatments

Dr. Jongens and his collaborators have found an insulin-like protein in the fly brain that is overexpressed in the Fragile X mutant fly, leading to increased activity of the insulin signaling pathway. Furthermore, they found that certain behavioral patterns in the Fragile X flies can be rescued by expressing the FX gene just in insulin producing neurons in the fly brain. In the mutant, there are other changes in the signaling pathways, including a decrease in cAMP and elevation in PI3K, mTOR, Akt and ERK activity. They now propose to study 2 medicines used for diabetes: pioglitazone (increases cAMP and decreases Akt and ERK) and metformin (inhibits mTOR), in flies and mice to validate the potential efficacy of these novel therapeutics for Fragile X.

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Matrix Metalloproteinase Therapeutic Treatments for Fragile X Syndrome

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.

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Understanding the Mechanism of mGluR5

Understanding the Mechanism of mGluR5

With a $304,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation from 1996-2009, Dr. Ben Oostra and his team at Erasmus University have done multiple studies related to Fragile X syndrome, the most recent being a study of spine morphology. Drs. Oostra and deVrij studied miRNA and Fragile X. miRNAs are RNAs that can repress the translation of target mRNAs – therefore they can play a role in protein synthesis within the neuron. Preliminary results showed large differences in miRNA expression in the Fragile X mouse brain compared to the wild type. This lab investigated the effect of mGluR5 antagonists on the levels of these specific miRNAs. Results published.

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Developing Fragile X Treatments in Fruit Flies and Mice

Developing Fragile X Treatments in Fruit Flies and Mice

With a $380,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation from 2005-2009, Drs. Sean McBride, Tom Jogens, and Catherine Choi studied one of the most important aspects of FRAXA’s research; the preclinical validation of potential therapeutic strategies. Many labs have found new leads for treatment. However, very few have the capacity to test new drugs in the mouse model to establish efficacy rigorously enough to lead to clinical trials. The McBride lab (in a broad collaboration with the Choi, Jongens, and Skoulakis groups) aims to do just that. Results published.

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Involvement of the miRNA Pathway in Fragile X Syndrome

With a $304,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation over several years, Drs. Oostra and deVrij from Erasmus University studied miRNA and Fragile X. miRNAs are RNAs that can repress the translation of target mRNAs – therefore they can play a role in protein synthesis within the neuron. Preliminary results showed large differences in miRNA expression in the Fragile X mouse brain compared to the wild type. This lab investigated the effect of mGluR5 antagonists on the levels of these specific miRNAs.

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Novel Functions of Drosophila FMRP

Novel Functions of Drosophila FMRP

With a $120,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation over 2 years, Dr. Thomas Dockendorff from the University of Tennessee and his colleagues were pioneers in using the power of fly genetics to understand the different functions of the fly version of the Fragile X protein.

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Sleep and Circadian Rhythms in Fragile X Mutant Drosophila

Sleep and Circadian Rhythms in Fragile X Mutant Drosophila

With an $80,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation over 2 years, Dr. Ravi Allada and his team studied at Northwestern University sleep behaviors in Fragile X fruit flies. These fruit flies are useful for several important reasons; not only do they have a good cognitive phenotype, they also have a clear disturbance of circadian rhythms. This is an important model for human hyperactivity and sleep disorders, and this group studied the underlying mechanisms in an effort to find treatments for the human conditions.

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Defining Functional Domains of FMRP and Uncovering its Partners via Large Scale Mutagenesis in Drosophila

Defining Functional Domains of FMRP and Uncovering its Partners via Large Scale Mutagenesis in Drosophila

Yong Zhang, PhD — Chinese Academy of Sciences with Xinda Lin, PhD, FRAXA Postdoctoral Fellow   FRAXA Awards: $40,000 in 2006 $40,000 in 2005   by Xinda Lin FMRP is a widely expressed RNA-binding protein involved in RNA transport and translation. Intensive studies in the last decade have demonstrated that FMRP contains four RNA binding domains, but their actual functions are mostly untested. Meanwhile, a dozen or so protein partners and hundreds of mRNA targets interacting with FMRP have been identified, but again their functions are poorly understood. It is important that the functional domains of FMRP and its interacting partners be identified and characterized in order to understand the pathogenesis of Fragile X. In the last five years, a Drosophila Fragile X model has provided a number of novel insights into FMRP function. Previous work was primarily focused on making null mutations of the gene and then analyzing the

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Genetic and Behavioral Analyses of the dFMR1 Pathway in Drosophila Peripheral Nervous System

Genetic and Behavioral Analyses of the dFMR1 Pathway in Drosophila Peripheral Nervous System

With a $160,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation from 2004-2006, Dr. Fen-Biao Gao and his team at the University of California studied the relationship between mRNA and FMRP.

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Pharmacologic Interventions in the Fmr1 KO Mouse

Pharmacologic Interventions in the Fmr1 KO Mouse

With $48,600 in grants from FRAXA Research Foundation over 2004-2006, Dr. Catherine Choi at Drexel University studied Fragile X knockout mice to determine future treatment targets for Fragile X syndrome in humans.

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A Genetic Model for Understanding Dendritic Spine Formation and Fragile X

A Genetic Model for Understanding Dendritic Spine Formation and Fragile X

With a $35,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation in 2003, Dr. Jay Brenman and his team at the University of North Carolina utilized the fruit fly (Drosophila) to model disease and examined the fly model of Fragile X in an effort to understand the basic mechanisms of disease.

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DFXR and Synaptic Tagging in Drosophila (Fruit Flies)

DFXR and Synaptic Tagging in Drosophila (Fruit Flies)

With a $135,000 grant from FRAXA Research Foundation from 2001-2003, Dr. Jerry Yin and his team at the University of Wisconsin researched memory formation in Fragile X fruit flies. Dr. Yin started his Fragile X studies at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory before moving to the Waisman Center.

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