Thursday, August 27, 2009

New research sheds light on Fragile X syndrome proteins

From UPI:

TUCSON -- U.S. scientists say they used a fruit fly's eyes to "see" proteins necessary for memory in a study that provides new data on fragile X mental retardation.

"Understanding translational control mechanisms in the brain teaches us how the brain learns and adapts, and will inform the design of treatments for specific types of neurologic disease," said Dr. Anne-Marie Cziko of the University of Arizona, co-author of the study.

The researchers said they discovered the fragile X mental retardation protein that also plays a role in learning and memory needs five other proteins to function normally. The scientists identified those proteins using an artificial system of increasing the fragile X protein in the eyes of fruit flies, which leads to visible deformities.

To test the requirement of various candidate proteins for function of the fragile X protein, the researchers genetically modified the flies to prevent them from making each candidate protein. They found loss of any one of the five proteins caused the fruit fly's eye to be significantly less deformed, revealing that each protein contributes to the harmful effects of the fragile X mental retardation protein.

The researchers said their findings give new insight into additional and alternative functions of the fragile X mental retardation protein and also indicate the need for more study into the fragile X protein's function itself.

The findings are detailed in the journal Genetics.