Fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome (FXTAS) is an X-linked late-onset neurodegenerative disorder caused by a noncoding trinucleotide repeat expansion in the FMR1 gene. This gene produces fragile x mental retardation protein (FMRP), an RNA binding protein whose targets are involved in brain development and synaptic plasticity. One of the proposed mechanisms of FXTAS pathogenesis is an RNA gain-of-function in which the repeat expansion causes toxic mRNA that sequesters important proteins in the cell, interfering with their functions. Another suggested method of pathogenesis is through a mutant protein called FMRpolyG. This protein results from repeat-associated non-AUG (RAN) translation, in which the expanded repeats are translated where they otherwise would not be. This protein co-localizes with intranuclear inclusions and nuclear membrane proteins, causing disorganization of the nuclear lamina in FXTAS patient brain samples and neurons differentiated from FXTAS patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). iPSC technology involves reprogramming an adult somatic cell back to an embryonic-like state, allowing it to be differentiated into all cell types. A limit with iPSCs, though, is modeling late-onset disorders because the cells lose all age-related features during reprogramming. Progerin, a truncated form of the lamin A protein, has been used to age neurons differentiated from Parkinson Disease (PD) patient-derived iPSCs. Progerin-mediated aging was found to unmask PD-like phenotypes in those neurons, making it a promising technology for modeling late-onset disorders such as FXTAS. In this study, we investigated the link between the aging process and FXTAS pathogenesis in neurons differentiated from FXTAS patient-derived iPSCs with the use of progerin. Progerin transduction was successful in aging the FXTAS neurons. The presence of FMRpolyG was confirmed and an interaction with Lap2b was observed. In some neurons, there was also an observed interaction between FMRpolyG and progerin. Overall, this data suggests that there is an interaction between the mutant FMRpolyG protein and the nuclear membrane during aging, which may contribute to the cell death that causes neurodegeneration in FXTAS patients.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

von Kalm, Laurence


Southwell, Amber


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Sciences



Degree Program




Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access

1 year

Release Date