PloS one

Characterization of fragile X mental retardation protein recruitment and dynamics in Drosophila stress granules.

PMID 23408971


The RNA-binding protein Fragile X Mental Retardation (FMRP) is an evolutionarily conserved protein that is particularly abundant in the brain due to its high expression in neurons. FMRP deficiency causes fragile X mental retardation syndrome. In neurons, FMRP controls the translation of target mRNAs in part by promoting dynamic transport in and out neuronal RNA granules. We and others have previously shown that upon stress, mammalian FMRP dissociates from translating polysomes to localize into neuronal-like granules termed stress granules (SG). This localization of FMRP in SG is conserved in Drosophila. Whether FMRP plays a key role in SG formation, how FMRP is recruited into SG, and whether its association with SG is dynamic are currently unknown. In contrast with mammalian FMRP, which has two paralog proteins, Drosophila FMR1 (dFMRP) is encoded by a single gene that has no paralog. Using this genetically simple model, we assessed the role of dFMRP in SG formation and defined the determinants required for its recruitment in SG as well as its dynamics in SG. We show that dFMRP is dispensable for SG formation in vitro and ex vivo. FRAP experiments showed that dFMRP shuttles in and out SG. The shuttling activity of dFMRP is mediated by a protein-protein interaction domain located at the N-terminus of the protein. This domain is, however, dispensable for the localization of dFMRP in SG. This localization of dFMRP in SG requires the KH and RGG motifs which are known to mediate RNA binding, as well as the C-terminal glutamine/asparagine rich domain. Our studies thus suggest that the mechanisms controlling the recruitment of FMRP into SG and those that promote its shuttling between granules and the cytosol are uncoupled. To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of the regulated shuttling activity of a SG component between RNA granules and the cytosol.