2014 Volume 3 Issue 4 Pages 118-133
Fragile X Syndrome (FXS) is a commonly inherited form of intellectual disability and one of the leading genetic causes for autism spectrum disorder. Clinical symptoms of FXS can include impaired cognition, anxiety, hyperactivity, social phobia, and repetitive behaviors. FXS is caused by a CGG repeat mutation which expands a region on the X chromosome containing the FMR1 gene. In FXS, a full mutation (> 200 repeats) leads to hypermethylation of FMR1, an epigenetic mechanism that effectively silences FMR1 gene expression and reduces levels of the FMR1 gene product, fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP). FMRP is an RNA-binding protein that is important for the regulation of protein expression. In an effort to further understand how loss of FMR1 and FMRP contribute to FXS symptomology, several FXS animal models have been created. The most well characterized rodent model is the Fmr1 knockout (KO) mouse, which lacks FMRP protein due to a disruption in its Fmr1 gene. Here, we review the behavioral phenotyping of the Fmr1 KO mouse to date, and discuss the clinical relevance of this mouse model to the human FXS condition. While much remains to be learned about FXS, the Fmr1 KO mouse is a valuable tool for understanding the repercussions of functional loss of FMRP and assessing the efficacy of pharmacological compounds in ameliorating the molecular and behavioral phenotypes relevant to FXS.