Abnormal presynaptic short-term plasticity and information processing in a mouse model of fragile X syndrome

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Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is the most common inherited form of intellectual disability and the leading genetic cause of autism. It is associated with the lack of fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP), a regulator of protein synthesis in axons and dendrites. Studies on FXS have extensively focused on the postsynaptic changes underlying dysfunctions in long-term plasticity. In contrast, the presynaptic mechanisms of FXS have garnered relatively little attention and are poorly understood. Activity-dependent presynaptic processes give rise to several forms of short-term plasticity (STP), which is believed to control some of essential neural functions, including information processing, working memory, and decision making. The extent of STP defects and their contributions to the pathophysiology of FXS remain essentially unknown, however. Here we report marked presynaptic abnormalities at excitatory hippocampal synapses in Fmr1 knock-out (KO) mice leading to defects in STP and information processing. Loss of FMRP led to enhanced responses to high-frequency stimulation. Fmr1 KO mice also exhibited abnormal synaptic processing of natural stimulus trains, specifically excessive enhancement during the high-frequency spike discharges associated with hippocampal place fields. Analysis of individual STP components revealed strongly increased augmentation and reduced short-term depression attributable to loss of FMRP. These changes were associated with exaggerated calcium influx in presynaptic neuronsduring high-frequency stimulation, enhanced synaptic vesicle recycling, and enlarged readily-releasable and reserved vesicle pools. These data suggest that loss of FMRP causes abnormal STP and information processing, which may represent a novel mechanism contributing to cognitive impairments in FXS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10971-10982
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number30
StatePublished - Jul 27 2011


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