Regulation of synaptic and autism-related genes by RNA binding proteins in neurons.
Ji-Ann Lee, Ph.D.
Both brain development and neuronal plasticity are characterized by dynamic activity-dependent changes in gene expression. RNA binding proteins&nbs(RBPs) play critical roles during these processes by regulating RNA metabolism to fine-tune the temporal and spatial control of gene expression in neurons. Rbfox1 is a neuronal RBP and implicated inintellectual disability, epilepsy, and autism spectrum disorders. While Rbfox1 has been well studied as a splicing regulator, we found that Rbfox1 also binds to 3’ UTR of its target genes and regulates mRNA concentration in the cytoplasm of neurons. These newly identified target genes are enriched for synaptic and autism related genes. Our results uncover a novel RNA regulatory network and shed light on how genetic mutations lead to autism.