Astroglial FMRP-dependent translational down-regulation of mGluR5 underlies glutamate transporter GLT1 dysregulation in the fragile X mouse

Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is a neurodevelopmental disorder caused by the loss-of-function of fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP). The loss of FMRP function in neurons abolishes its suppression on mGluR1/5-dependent dendritic protein translation, enhancing mGluR1/5-dependent synaptic plasticity and other disease phenotypes in FXS. In this study, we describe a new activation function of FMRP in regulating protein expression in astroglial cells. We found that astroglial glutamate transporter subtype glutamate transporter 1 (GLT1) and glutamate uptake is significantly reduced in the cortex of fmr1(-/-) mice. Correspondingly, neuronal excitability is also enhanced in acute fmr1(-/-) (but not in fmr1(+/+) control) cortical slices treated with low doses (10 μm) of the GLT1-specific inhibitor dihydrokainate (DHK). Using mismatched astrocyte and neuron co-cultures, we demonstrate that the loss of astroglial (but not neuronal) FMRP particularly reduces neuron-dependent GLT1 expression and glutamate uptake in co-cultures. Interestingly, protein (but not mRNA) expression and the (S)-3,5-dihydroxyphenylglycine-dependent Ca(2+) responses of astroglial mGluR5 receptor are also selectively reduced in fmr1(-/-) astrocytes and brain slices, attenuating neuron-dependent GLT1 expression. Subsequent FMRP immunoprecipitation and QRT-PCR analysis showed that astroglial mGluR5 (but not GLT1) mRNA is associated with FMRP. In summary, our results provide evidence that FMRP positively regulates translational expression of mGluR5 in astroglial cells, and FMRP-dependent down-regulation of mGluR5 underlies GLT1 dysregulation in fmr1(-/-) astrocytes. The dysregulation of GLT1 and reduced glutamate uptake may potentially contribute to enhanced neuronal excitability observed in the mouse model of FXS.