Vivo-Morpholinos: Same oligos, from cultures to critters -


Neural circuit architecture defects in a Drosophila model of Fragile X syndrome are alleviated by minocycline treatment and genetic removal of matrix metalloproteinase
Saul S. Siller, Kendal Broadie


Fragile X syndrome (FXS), caused by loss of the fragile X mental retardation 1 (FMR1) product (FMRP), is the most common cause of inherited intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorders. FXS patients suffer multiple behavioral symptoms, including hyperactivity, disrupted circadian cycles, and learning and memory deficits. Recently, a study in the mouse FXS model showed that the tetracycline derivative minocycline effectively remediates the disease state via a proposed matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) inhibition mechanism. Here, we use the well-characterized Drosophila FXS model to assess the effects of minocycline treatment on multiple neural circuit morphological defects and to investigate the MMP hypothesis. We first treat Drosophila Fmr1 (dfmr1) null animals with minocycline to assay the effects on mutant synaptic architecture in three disparate locations: the neuromuscular junction (NMJ), clock neurons in the circadian activity circuit and Kenyon cells in the mushroom body learning and memory center. We find that minocycline effectively restores normal synaptic structure in all three circuits, promising therapeutic potential for FXS treatment. We next tested the MMP hypothesis by assaying the effects of overexpressing the sole Drosophila tissue inhibitor of MMP (TIMP) in dfmr1 null mutants. We find that TIMP overexpression effectively prevents defects in the NMJ synaptic architecture in dfmr1 mutants. Moreover, co-removal of dfmr1 similarly rescues TIMP overexpression phenotypes, including cellular tracheal defects and lethality. To further test the MMP hypothesis, we generated dfmr1;mmp1 double null mutants. Null mmp1 mutants are 100% lethal and display cellular tracheal defects, but co-removal of dfmr1 allows adult viability and prevents tracheal defects. Conversely, co-removal of mmp1 ameliorates the NMJ synaptic architecture defects in dfmr1 null mutants, despite the lack of detectable difference in MMP1 expression or gelatinase activity between the single dfmr1 mutants and controls. These results support minocycline as a promising potential FXS treatment and suggest that it might act via MMP inhibition. We conclude that FMRP and TIMP pathways interact in a reciprocal, bidirectional manner.



    The authors declare that they do not have any competing or financial interests.


    S.S.S. performed all experiments, analyzed all data and co-wrote the manuscript. K.B. conceived the study, designed experiments, supervised experimental work and co-wrote the manuscript.


    Supplementary material for this article is available at

  • Received November 16, 2010.
  • Accepted May 3, 2011.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike License (, which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium provided that the original work is properly cited and all further distributions of the work or adaptation are subject to the same Creative Commons License terms.

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