FMR1 gene expression in olfactory neuroblasts from two males with fragile X syndrome

Michael T. Abrams, Walter E. Kaufmann, François Rousseau, Ben A. Oostra, Benjamin Wolozin, Christopher V. Taylor, Nancy Lishaa, Marie Lou Morel, Andre Hoogeveen, Allan L. Reiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The fragile X mental retardation 1 gene (FMR1) mutation is strongly correlated with specific and marked neurobehavioral and neuroanatomical abnormalities. The protein product, FMRP, is highly expressed in neurons of the normal mammalian brain, and absent or in low levels in leukoctyes from individuals with fragile X (FraX)associated mental impairment. Inferences which arise from these findings are that FMRP has a critical role in the development and functioning of the brain, and that leukocyte-derived molecular assessments provide a good indicator of FMR1 expression in that organ. This latter conclusion appears true in most cases even though the typical FMR1 mutation is an unstable triplet repeat expansion which demonstrates somatic heterogeneity within and across tissues. Blood to brain correspondence in FraX patients has only rarely been confirmed by the direct study of human brain specimens and, to our knowledge, it has never been studied in living individuals with the FMR1 mutation. In this report, we describe the FMR1 patterns in olfactory neuroblasts (ON) from two living brothers with expansion mutations in their leukocytes who are mentally retarded and autistic. ON were chosen for study because they are accessible neurons closely linked to the brain. In both subjects, the ON genotype was highly, but not perfectly, consistent with that observed in leukocytes. Protein phenotypes across tissues were completely consistent showing the absence of FMRP-immunoreactivity (-ir). These results augment the limited amount of direct evidence which indicates that FMR1 mutation patterns in leukocytes are a good, albeit potentially fallible, reflection of such patterns in the brain. This report further demonstrates the feasibility of using ON samples to evaluate the FMR1 mutation in humans in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-30
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of medical genetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • FMR1
  • FMRP
  • Fragile X
  • Leukocytes
  • Olfactory neuroblasts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)


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