Corticogenesis is one of the most critical and complicated processes during embryonic brain development. Any slight impairment in corticogenesis could cause neurodevelopmental disorders such as Fragile X syndrome (FXS), of which symptoms contain intellectual disability (ID) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP), an RNA-binding protein responsible for FXS, shows strong expression in neural stem/precursor cells (NPCs) during corticogenesis, although its function during brain development remains largely unknown. In this study, we attempted to identify the FMRP target mRNAs in the cortical primordium using RNA immunoprecipitation sequencing analysis in the mouse embryonic brain. We identified 865 candidate genes as targets of FMRP involving 126 and 118 genes overlapped with ID and ASD-associated genes, respectively. These overlapped genes were enriched with those related to chromatin/chromosome organization and histone modifications, suggesting the involvement of FMRP in epigenetic regulation. We further identified a common set of 17 FMRP “core” target genes involved in neurogenesis/FXS/ID/ASD, containing factors associated with Ras/mitogen-activated protein kinase, Wnt/β-catenin, and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathways. We indeed showed overactivation of mTOR signaling via an increase in mTOR phosphorylation in the Fmr1 knockout (Fmr1 KO) neocortex. Our results provide further insight into the critical roles of FMRP in the developing brain, where dysfunction of FMRP may influence the regulation of its mRNA targets affecting signaling pathways and epigenetic modifications.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience