Facile FMR1 mRNA structure regulation by interruptions in CGG repeats.
ABSTRACT: RNA metabolism is a major contributor to the pathogenesis of clinical disorders associated with premutation size alleles of the fragile X mental retardation (FMR1) gene. Herein, we determined the structural properties of numerous FMR1 transcripts harboring different numbers of both CGG repeats and AGG interruptions. The stability of hairpins formed by uninterrupted repeat-containing transcripts increased with the lengthening of the repeat tract. Even a single AGG interruption in the repeated sequence dramatically changed the folding of the 5'UTR fragments, typically resulting in branched hairpin structures. Transcripts containing different lengths of CGG repeats, but sharing a common AGG pattern, adopted similar types of secondary structures. We postulate that interruption-dependent structure variants of the FMR1 mRNA contribute to the phenotype diversity, observed in premutation carriers.
Project description:Fragile X associated disorders are caused by a premutation allele in the fragile X mental retardation 1 gene (FMR1) and are hypothesized to result from the toxic effect of elevated levels of expanded FMR1 transcripts. Increased levels of FMR1 mRNA have indeed been reported in premutation carriers; however the mechanism by which expanded alleles lead to elevated levels of FMR1 mRNA in premutation carriers is unknown. Within the CGG repeat tract AGG interruptions are found, generally 1-3 present in normal/intermediate alleles (6-54 CGG repeats) and usually 0-1 in premutation alleles (55-200 CGG repeats). They are present at specific locations, generally occurring after 9 or 10 uninterrupted CGG repeats [(CGG)(9)AGG(CGG)(9)AGG(CGG)(n)]. We evaluated both the number of AGG interruptions and the resulting length of the uninterrupted 3' CGG repeat pure tract in premutation alleles derived from two large cohorts of male and female carriers to determine whether the presence of AGG interruptions or the length of a pure stretch of CGG repeats influence the levels of FMR1 mRNA in blood. Our findings indicate that neither the number of AGG interruptions, nor their position along the CGG tract have a significant affect on mRNA levels in premutation carriers. We also, as expected based on previous findings, observed a highly significant correlation between CGG repeat number (as both total length and length of pure CGG stretch) and FMR1 mRNA expression levels, in both males and females. Importantly, we did not observe any significant difference in FMR1 mRNA levels in premutation carriers based on age.
Project description:The presence of AGG interruptions in the CGG repeat locus of the fragile X mental retardation 1 (FMR1) gene decreases the instability of the allele during transmission from parent to child, and decreases the risk of expansion of a premutation allele to a full mutation allele (the predominant cause of fragile X syndrome) during maternal transmission.To strengthen recent findings on the utility of AGG interruptions in predicting instability or expansion to a full mutation of FMR1 CGG repeat alleles, we assessed the outcomes of 108 intermediate (also named gray zone) and 710 premutation alleles that were transmitted from parent to child, and collected from four international clinical sites. We have used the results to revise our initial model that predicted the risk of a maternal premutation allele expanding to a full mutation during transmission and to test the effect of AGG interruptions on the magnitude of expanded allele instability of intermediate or premutation alleles that did not expand to a full mutation.Consistent with previous studies, the number of AGG triplets that interrupts the CGG repeat locus was found to influence the risk of allele instability, including expansion to a full mutation. The total length of the CGG repeat allele remains the best predictor of instability or expansion to a full mutation, but the number of AGG interruptions and, to a much lesser degree, maternal age are also factors when considering the risk of transmission of the premutation allele to a full mutation.Our findings demonstrate that a model with total CGG length, number of AGG interruptions, and maternal age is recommended for calculating the risk of expansion to a full mutation during maternal transmission. Taken together, the results of this study provide relevant information for the genetic counseling of female premutation carriers, and improve the current predictive models which calculate risk of expansion to a full mutation using only total CGG repeat length.
Project description:The ability to accurately predict the likelihood of expansion of the CGG repeats in the FMR1 gene to a full mutation is of critical importance for genetic counseling of women who are carriers of premutation alleles (55-200 CGG repeats) and who are weighing the risk of having a child with fragile X syndrome. The presence of AGG interruptions within the CGG repeat tract is thought to decrease the likelihood of expansion to a full mutation during transmission, thereby reducing risk, although their contribution has not been quantified.We retrospectively analyzed 267 premutation alleles for number and position of AGG interruptions, length of pure CGG repeats, and CGG repeat lengths present in the offspring of the maternal transmissions. In addition, we determined the haplotypes of four markers flanking the 5'-UTR locus in the premutation mothers.We found that the presence of AGG interruptions significantly increased genetic stability, whereas specific haplotypes had a marginal association with transmission instability.The presence of AGG interruptions reduced the risk of transmission of a full mutation for all maternal (premutation) repeat lengths below ~100 CGG repeats, with a differential risk (0 vs. 2 AGG) exceeding 60% for alleles in the 70- to 80-CGG repeat range.
Project description:Fragile X-associated primary ovarian insufficiency (FXPOI) occurs in about 20% of women who carry a premutation allele (55-200 CGG repeats). These women develop hypergonadotropic hypogonadism and have secondary amenorrhea before age 40. A non-linear association with repeat size and risk for FXPOI has been seen in multiple studies women with a premutation: those with a mid-range of repeats are at highest risk (?70-100 CGG repeats). Importantly, not all carriers with 70-100 repeats experience FXPOI. We investigated whether AGG interruptions, adjusted for repeat size, impacted age at secondary amenorrhea. We have reproductive history information and AGG interruption data on 262 premutation women: 164 had an established age at amenorrhea (AAA) (for some, age at onset of FXPOI) or menopause, 16 had a surgery involving the reproductive system such as a hysterectomy, and 82 women were still cycling at the last interview. Reproductive status was determined using self-report reproductive questionnaires and interviews with a reproductive endocrinologist. For each of these 262 women, FMR1 repeat size and number of AGG interruptions were determined. We confirmed the association of repeat size with AAA or menopause among women with a premutation. As expected, both premutation repeat size and the quadratic form of repeat size (i.e., squared term) were significant in a survival analysis model predicting AAA (p < 0.0001 for both variables). When number of AGG interruptions was added to the model, this variable was not significant (p = 0.59). Finally, we used a regression model based on the 164 women with established AAA to estimate the proportion of variance in AAA explained by repeat size and its squared term. Both terms were again highly significant (p < 0.0001 for both), but together only explained 13% of the variation in AAA. The non-linear association between AAA and FMR1 repeat size has been described in several studies. We have determined that AGG interruption pattern does not contribute to this association. Because only 13% of the variation is described using repeat size, it is clear that further research of FXPOI is needed to identify other factors that affect the risk for FXPOI.
Project description:The learning disability fragile X syndrome results from the presence of >200 CGG/CCG repeats in exon 1 of the X-linked gene FMR1. Such alleles arise by expansion from maternally transmitted FMR1 premutation alleles, alleles having 55 to 200 repeats. Expansion risk is directly related to maternal repeat number. However, AGG interruptions to the repeat tract are important modifiers of expansion risk. Thus, the ability to identify such interruptions is crucial for the appropriate genetic counseling of females who are premutation carriers. First-generation triplet-primed PCR assays allow these interruptions to be detected. However, because the triplet primer used has multiple binding sites in the repeat tract, interpreting the results is not straightforward and it is not always possible to unambiguously determine the AGG-interruption status in females because of the difficulties associated with the presence of a second X chromosome. Interpretation is further complicated by any repeat size mosaicism that may be present. We have developed second-generation PCR assays that prime specifically at the interruptions. These assays are simpler to interpret and better able to evaluate this important determinant of expansion risk in females even in those with a mixture of premutation allele sizes.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Fragile X Syndrome (FXS), the most common inherited form of mental retardation, is caused by expansion of a CGG/CCG repeat tract in the 5'-untranslated region of the fragile X mental retardation (FMR1) gene, which changes the functional organization of the gene from euchromatin to heterochromatin. Interestingly, healthy-length repeat tracts possess AGG/CCT interruptions every 9-10 repeats, and clinical data shows that loss of these interruptions is linked to expansion of the repeat tract to disease-length. Thus, it is important to understand how these interruptions alter the behavior of the repeat tract in the packaged gene.<h4>Results</h4>To investigate how uninterrupted and interrupted CGG/CCG repeat tracts interact with the histone core, we designed experiments using the nucleosome core particle, the most basic unit of chromatin packaging. Using DNA containing 19 CGG/CCG repeats, flanked by either a nucleosome positioning sequence or the FMR1 gene sequence, we determined that the addition of a single AGG/CCT interruption modulates both the ability of the CGG/CCG repeat DNA to incorporate into a nucleosome and the rotational and translational position of the repeat DNA around the histone core when flanked by the nucleosome positioning sequence. The presence of these interruptions also alters the periodicity of the DNA in the nucleosome; interrupted repeat tracts have a greater periodicity than uninterrupted repeats.<h4>Conclusions</h4>This work defines the ability of AGG/CCT interruptions to modulate the behavior of the repeat tract in the packaged gene and contributes to our understanding of the role that AGG/CCT interruptions play in suppressing expansion and maintaining the correct functional organization of the FMR1 gene, highlighting a protective role played by the interruptions in genomic packaging.
Project description:The fragile X syndrome arises from the FMR1 CGG expansion of a premutation (55-200 repeats) to a full mutation allele (>200 repeats) and is the most frequent cause of inherited X-linked intellectual disability. The risk for a premutation to expand to a full mutation allele depends on the repeat length and AGG triplets interrupting this repeat. In genetic counseling it is important to have information on both these parameters to provide an accurate risk estimate to women carrying a premutation allele and weighing up having children. For example, in case of a small risk a woman might opt for a natural pregnancy followed up by prenatal diagnosis while she might choose for preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) if the risk is high. Unfortunately, the detection of AGG interruptions was previously hampered by technical difficulties complicating their use in diagnostics. Therefore we recently developed, validated and implemented a new methodology which uses long-read single-molecule sequencing to identify AGG interruptions in females with a FMR1 premutation. Here we report on the assets of AGG interruption detection by sequencing and the impact of implementing the assay on genetic counseling.
Project description:To determine the meiotic instability of the CGG-triplet repeat in the fragile-X gene, FMR1, we examined the size of the repeat in single sperm from four premutation males. The males had CGG-repeat sizes of 68, 75, 78, and 100, as determined in peripheral blood samples. All samples showed a broad range of variations, with expansions more common than contractions. Examination of single lymphocytes indicated that somatic cells were relatively more stable than sperm. Surprisingly, the repeats in sperm from the 75- and 78-repeat males had very different size ranges and distribution patterns despite the similarity of the repeat size and AGG interruption in their somatic cells. These results suggest that cis or trans factors may have a role in male germline repeat instability.
Project description:The fragile X mental retardation 1 (FMR1) gene contains a CGG-repeat element within its 5' untranslated region (5'UTR) which, for alleles with more than approximately 40 repeats, increasingly affects both transcription (up-regulation) and translation (inhibition) of the repeat-containing RNA with increasing CGG-repeat length. Translational inhibition is thought to be due to impaired ribosomal scanning through the CGG-repeat region, which is postulated to form highly stable secondary/tertiary structure. One striking difference between alleles in the premutation range (55-200 CGG repeats) and those in the normal range (< approximately 40 repeats) is the reduced number/absence of 'expansion stabilizing' AGG interruptions in the larger alleles. Such interruptions, which generally occur every 9-11 repeats in normal alleles, are thought to disrupt the extended CGG-repeat hairpin structure, thus facilitating translational initiation. To test this hypothesis, we have measured the translational efficiency of CGG-repeat mRNAs with 0-2 AGG interruptions, both in vitro (rabbit reticulocyte lysates) and in cell culture (HEK-293 cells). We demonstrate that the AGG interruptions have no detectable influence on translational efficiency in either a cell-free system or cell culture, indicating that any AGG-repeat-induced alterations in secondary/tertiary structure, if present, do not involve the rate-limiting step(s) in translational initiation.
Project description:The CGG repeat in the 5' untranslated region of the fragile X mental retardation 1 gene (FMR1) exhibits remarkable instability upon transmission from mothers with premutation alleles. A collaboration of 13 laboratories in eight countries was established to examine four issues concerning FMR1 CGG-repeat instability among females with premutation (approximately 55-200 repeats) and intermediate (approximately 46-60 repeats) alleles. Our central findings were as follows: (1) The smallest premutation alleles that expanded to a full mutation (>200 repeats) in one generation contained 59 repeats; sequence analysis of the 59-repeat alleles from these two females revealed no AGG interruptions within the FMR1 CGG repeat. (2) When we corrected for ascertainment and recalculated the risks of expansion to a full mutation, we found that the risks for premutation alleles with <100 repeats were lower than those previously published. (3) When we examined the possible influence of sex of offspring on transmission of a full mutation-by analysis of 567 prenatal fragile X studies of 448 mothers with premutation and full-mutation alleles-we found no significant differences in the proportion of full-mutation alleles in male or female fetuses. (4) When we examined 136 transmissions of intermediate alleles from 92 mothers with no family history of fragile X, we found that, in contrast to the instability observed in families with fragile X, most (99/136 [72.8%]) transmissions of intermediate alleles were stable. The unstable transmissions (37/136 [27.2%]) in these families included both expansions and contractions in repeat size. The instability increased with the larger intermediate alleles (19% for 49-54 repeats, 30.9% for 55-59, and 80% for 60-65 repeats). These studies should allow improved risk assessments for genetic counseling of women with premutation or intermediate-size alleles.