Temporal-specific roles of fragile X mental retardation protein in the development of the hindbrain auditory circuit

Xiaoyu Wang, Ayelet Kohl, Xiaoyan Yu, Diego A.R. Zorio, Avihu Klar, Dalit Sela-Donenfeld, Yuan Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP) is an RNA-binding protein abundant in the nervous system. Functional loss of FMRP leads to sensory dysfunction and severe intellectual disabilities. In the auditory system, FMRP deficiency alters neuronal function and synaptic connectivity and results in perturbed processing of sound information. Nevertheless, roles of FMRP in embryonic development of the auditory hindbrain have not been identified. Here, we developed high-specificity approaches to genetically track and manipulate throughout development of the Atoh1+ neuronal cell type, which is highly conserved in vertebrates, in the cochlear nucleus of chicken embryos. We identified distinct FMRP-containing granules in the growing axons of Atoh1+ neurons and post-migrating NM cells. FMRP downregulation induced by CRISPR/Cas9 and shRNA techniques resulted in perturbed axonal pathfinding, delay in midline crossing, excess branching of neurites, and axonal targeting errors during the period of circuit development. Together, these results provide the first in vivo identification of FMRP localization and actions in developing axons of auditory neurons, and demonstrate the importance of investigating early embryonic alterations toward understanding the pathogenesis of neurodevelopmental disorders.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numberdev188797
JournalDevelopment (Cambridge)
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • Auditory circuit
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Axon development
  • Axon fasciculation
  • Axon targeting
  • CRISPR-Cas9
  • Fragile X syndrome
  • RNA-binding proteins

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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