Abnormal dendrite and spine morphology in primary visual cortex in the CGG knock-in mouse model of the fragile X premutation

Robert F Berman, Karl D Murray, Gloria Arque, Michael R. Hunsaker, H. Jürgen Wenzel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


The fragile X mental retardation 1 gene (Fmr1) is polymorphic for CGG trinucleotide repeat number in the 5'-untranslated region, with repeat lengths <45 associated with typical development and repeat lengths >200 resulting in hypermethylation and transcriptional silencing of the gene and mental retardation in the fragile X Syndrome (FXS). Individuals with CGG repeat expansions between 55 and 200 are carriers of the fragile X premutation (PM). PM carriers show a phenotype that can include anxiety, depression, social phobia, and memory deficits. They are also at risk for developing fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome (FXTAS), a late onset neurodegenerative disorder characterized by tremor, ataxia, cognitive impairment, and neuropathologic features including intranuclear inclusions in neurons and astrocytes, loss of Purkinje cells, and white matter disease. However, very little is known about dendritic morphology in PM or in FXTAS. Therefore, we carried out a Golgi study of dendritic complexity and dendritic spine morphology in layer II/III pyramidal neurons in primary visual cortex in a knock-in (KI) mouse model of the PM. These CGG KI mice carry an expanded CGG trinucleotide repeat on Fmr1, and model many features of the PM and FXTAS. Compared to wild-type (WT) mice, CGG KI mice showed fewer dendritic branches proximal to the soma, reduced total dendritic length, and a higher frequency of longer dendritic spines. The distribution of morphologic spine types (e.g., stubby, mushroom, filopodial) did not differ between WT and KI mice. These findings demonstrate that synaptic circuitry is abnormal in visual cortex of mice used to model the PM, and suggest that such changes may underlie neurologic features found in individuals carrying the PM as well as in individuals with FXTAS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)150-160
Number of pages11
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Jun 2012


  • Circuitry
  • Dendritic spines
  • Fragile X
  • Fragile X mental retardation protein
  • Fragile X premutation
  • Golgi impregnation
  • Pyramidal neurons
  • Synapse
  • Visual cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology


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