Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fragile X Brain Synapses Mostly Undeveloped, Researchers Say

Date:
September 9, 1999
Source:
University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
Views of normal brains and of those afflicted with Fragile X Mental Retardation Syndrome are coming into focus, and the contrast in synapse development is vividly clear, say researchers at the University of Illinois Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology.

Views of normal brains and of those afflicted with Fragile X Mental Retardation Syndrome are coming into focus, and the contrast in synapse development is vividly clear, say researchers at the University of Illinois Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology.

Related Articles


A big difference is in dendritic spines--projections from nerve cells through which many impulses make their synaptic connections. Normal brains have thick, well-developed spines; mostly long, narrow and undeveloped spines protrude from the nerve cells in Fragile X brains.

The apparatus for normal development exists in both brains, but the message carrier is not working in Fragile X brains, researchers William T. Greenough and Ivan Jeanne Weiler reported Aug. 25 at the Ninth Annual International Workshop on Fragile X Syndrome and X-Linked Mental Retardation in Strasbourg, France. In Boston, before traveling to Europe, Greenough received a Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award during the American Psychological Association annual convention for his research on the mechanisms underlying learning and memory.

When stimulated in early development, spines in normal brain tissue rapidly record the experience, generate protein, grow and mature, forming a characteristic thick, functional shape. Spines in Fragile X brains don't change or mature. The Fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP) is not working, thus secondary protein synthesis necessary for maturation does not occur, the researchers reported.

Their work-- funded by the FRAXA Research Foundation and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development-- involves experiments with mice and rats and examinations of autopsy samples of human Fragile X patients.

In May 1997, a team led by Greenough and Weiler reported that FMRP is produced at synapses of the brain. Genetic suppression of FMRP already was known to cause mental retardation. Fragile X Syndrome is the most common cause of genetically inherited mental impairment. Fragile X refers to the broken appearance of the X chromosome when cells are cultured under specific conditions.

The new findings suggest possible roles of FMRP in dendritic spine maturation and pruning. "By studying an abnormal pattern of brain development, we have discovered a process that is fundamental to normal brain development," said Greenough, a professor of psychology, of psychiatry and of cell and structural biology.

"At the base of X synapses, there are little organelles that can make protein," said Weiler, a research scientist. "Most of these organelles in most cells are found very near to the nucleus, which has tight control of what is made. We have found that in nerve cells this protein-manufacturing assembly is also present at the synapse, and that the Fragile X protein is necessary for it to work properly, but we don't know what other proteins are involved or how the synapse knows what to make. The synthesis of a protein by this organelle causes, or leads to, changes that are part of the transformation."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. "Fragile X Brain Synapses Mostly Undeveloped, Researchers Say." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 September 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/09/990909072618.htm>.
University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. (1999, September 9). Fragile X Brain Synapses Mostly Undeveloped, Researchers Say. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/09/990909072618.htm
University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. "Fragile X Brain Synapses Mostly Undeveloped, Researchers Say." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/09/990909072618.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) Fears of Ebola are keeping doctors and patients alike away from hospitals in the West African nation of Guinea. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite Rising Death Toll, Many Survive Ebola

Despite Rising Death Toll, Many Survive Ebola

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) The family of a Dallas nurse infected with Ebola in the US says doctors can no longer detect the virus in her. Despite the mounting death toll in West Africa, there are survivors there too. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Is your child ready? Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins