Loss of fragile X mental retardation protein precedes Lewy pathology in Parkinson’s disease

Yi Tan, Carmelo Sgobio, Thomas Arzberger, Felix Machleid, Qilin Tang, Elisabeth Findeis, Jorg Tost, Tasnim Chakroun, Pan Gao, Mathias Höllerhage, Kai Bötzel, Jochen Herms, Günter Höglinger, Thomas Koeglsperger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the most common neurodegenerative movement disorder and is characterized by the progressive loss of dopaminergic (DA) neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc) and the gradual appearance of α-synuclein (α-syn)-containing neuronal protein aggregates. Although the exact mechanism of α-syn-mediated cell death remains elusive, recent research suggests that α-syn-induced alterations in neuronal excitability contribute to cell death in PD. Because the fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP) controls the expression and function of numerous neuronal genes related to neuronal excitability and synaptic function, we here investigated the role of FMRP in α-syn-associated pathological changes in cell culture and mouse models of PD as well as in post-mortem human brain tissue from PD patients. We found FMRP to be decreased in cultured DA neurons and in the mouse brain in response to α-syn overexpression. FMRP was, furthermore, lost in the SNc of PD patients and in patients with early stages of incidental Lewy body disease (iLBD). Unlike fragile X syndrome (FXS), FMR1 expression in response to α-syn was regulated by a mechanism involving Protein Kinase C (PKC) and cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB). Reminiscent of FXS neurons, α-syn-overexpressing cells exhibited an increase in membrane N-type calcium channels, increased phosphorylation of ERK1/2, eIF4E and S6, increased overall protein synthesis, and increased expression of Matrix Metalloproteinase 9 (MMP9). FMRP affected neuronal function in a PD animal model, because FMRP-KO mice were resistant to the effect of α-syn on striatal dopamine release. In summary, our results thus reveal a new role of FMRP in PD and support the examination of FMRP-regulated genes in PD disease progression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-345
Number of pages27
JournalActa Neuropathologica
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2020


  • Alpha-Synuclein
  • Fragile X mental retardation protein
  • Fragile X syndrome
  • Lewy body disease
  • N-Type calcium channel
  • Parkinson’s disease


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