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Fragile X Neurons

March 28, 2013

Fragile X Syndrome, a leading genetic cause of intellectual impairments, may actually result from too much brain activity.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

New insights into Fragile X.  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

A genetic disorder called Fragile X Syndrome is a leading cause of mental and social impairments. Now, biologist Vitaly Klyatchko of Washington University in St. Louis may have found out why.  His team found that the brain cells of mice with Fragile X release unusually large quantities of neurotransmitters: the signaling molecules that brain cells use to communicate.  Klyatchko says this could lead to information overload.

VITALY KLYATCHKO (Washington University, St. Louis):

If you’re listening to the radio, to one program, you normally can hear it very well.  What we found which would be analogy, is that suddenly you’re hearing three or four stations at the same time.

HIRSHON:
They also identified a defective protein that seems to cause the problem, and when they blocked it, the signaling returned to normal.  It’s a long way from here to humans, but the results suggest that the symptoms of Fragile X are potentially treatable.  I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.

Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have discovered that the most common inherited form of autism turns some brain cells into chatterboxes. Researchers used a micropipette (the oval flare of light near the cell body) to add dyes to nerve cells and to monitor activities in the axon, the branch of the cell that sends messages (highlighted by the box). Image by Vitaly Klyatchko