Mounia Bensaid

University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis, Nice, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France

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Publications (5)39.11 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The AFF (AF4/FMR2) family of genes includes four members: AFF1/AF4, AFF2/FMR2, AFF3/LAF4 and AFF4/AF5q31. AFF2/FMR2 is silenced in FRAXE intellectual disability, while the other three members have been reported to form fusion genes as a consequence of chromosome translocations with the myeloid/lymphoid or mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) gene in acute lymphoblastic leukemias (ALLs). All AFF proteins are localized in the nucleus and their role as transcriptional activators with a positive action on RNA elongation was primarily studied. We have recently shown that AFF2/FMR2 localizes to nuclear speckles, subnuclear structures considered as storage/modification sites of pre-mRNA splicing factors, and modulates alternative splicing via the interaction with the G-quadruplex RNA-forming structure. We show here that similarly to AFF2/FMR2, AFF3/LAF4 and AFF4/AF5q31 localize to nuclear speckles and are able to bind RNA, having a high apparent affinity for the G-quadruplex structure. Interestingly, AFF3/LAF4 and AFF4/AF5q31, like AFF2/FMR2, modulate, in vivo, the splicing efficiency of a mini-gene containing a G-quadruplex structure in one alternatively spliced exon. Furthermore, we observed that the overexpression of AFF2/3/4 interferes with the organization and/or biogenesis of nuclear speckles. These findings fit well with our observation that enlarged nuclear speckles are present in FRAXE fibroblasts. Furthermore, our findings suggest functional redundancy among the AFF family members in the regulation of splicing and transcription. It is possible that other members of the AFF family compensate for the loss of AFF2/FMR2 activity and as such explain the relatively mild to borderline phenotype observed in FRAXE patients.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2011 · Human Molecular Genetics
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    ABSTRACT: FRAXE is a form of mild to moderate mental retardation due to the silencing of the FMR2 gene. The cellular function of FMR2 protein is presently unknown. By analogy with its homologue AF4, FMR2 was supposed to have a role in transcriptional regulation, but robust evidences supporting this hypothesis are lacking. We observed that FMR2 co-localizes with the splicing factor SC35 in nuclear speckles, the nuclear regions where splicing factors are concentrated, assembled and modified. Similarly to what was reported for splicing factors, blocking splicing or transcription leads to the accumulation of FMR2 in enlarged, rounded speckles. FMR2 is also localized in the nucleolus when splicing is blocked. We show here that FMR2 is able to specifically bind the G-quartet-forming RNA structure with high affinity. Remarkably, in vivo, in the presence of FMR2, the ESE action of the G-quartet situated in mRNA of an alternatively spliced exon of a minigene or of the putative target FMR1 appears reduced. Interestingly, FMR1 is silenced in the fragile X syndrome, another form of mental retardation. All together, our findings strongly suggest that FMR2 is an RNA-binding protein, which might be involved in alternative splicing regulation through an interaction with G-quartet RNA structure.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2009 · Nucleic Acids Research
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    ABSTRACT: Author Summary The most common form of inherited mental retardation, Fragile X syndrome, is caused by the absence of the Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein (FMRP), which can bind mRNA. In mice devoid of FMRP, several hundreds of mRNAs with altered expression and localization have been reported. The impact of these abnormalities is particularly important in the brain, where the absence of FMRP affects the structure and function of connections between neurons, resulting in reduced cognitive abilities. In recent years, scientists studying Fragile X syndrome have focused on identifying the RNAs that are specifically bound by FMRP. We and others have identified two specific RNA structures bound by FMRP/RNA. Importantly, when FMRP binds these structures, the translation of the RNA into its protein product is inhibited. In this new study we have identified a third FMRP-binding RNA structure that is found in the mRNA that encodes superoxide dismutase, an oxidative-stress-mitigating enzyme. Most significantly, FMRP enhances translation of the superoxide dismutase mRNA when it interacts with the structure. These findings suggest that absence of FMRP might result in reduced levels of superoxide dismutase, which in turn leads to increased oxidative stress in the brain. Interestingly, oxidative stress in the brain has already been linked to anxiety, sleeping difficulties, and autism, all of which typically affect individuals with Fragile X syndrome.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2009 · PLoS Biology
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    ABSTRACT: Fragile X syndrome, the most frequent form of inherited mental retardation, is due to the absence of expression of the Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein (FMRP), an RNA binding protein with high specificity for G-quartet RNA structure. FMRP is involved in several steps of mRNA metabolism: nucleocytoplasmic trafficking, translational control and transport along dendrites in neurons. Fragile X Related Protein 1 (FXR1P), a homologue and interactor of FMRP, has been postulated to have a function similar to FMRP, leading to the hypothesis that it can compensate for the absence of FMRP in Fragile X patients. Here we analyze the ability of three isoforms of FXR1P, expressed in different tissues, to bind G-quartet RNA structure specifically. Only the longest FXR1P isoform was found to be able to bind specifically the G-quartet RNA, albeit with a lower affinity as compared to FMRP, whereas the other two isoforms negatively regulate the affinity of FMRP for G-quartet RNA. This result is important to decipher the molecular basis of fragile X syndrome, through the understanding of FMRP action in the context of its multimolecular complex in different tissues. In addition, we show that the action of FXR1P is synergistic rather than compensatory for FMRP function.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2007 · Nucleic Acids Research
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    ABSTRACT: Fragile X syndrome (FXS) - the leading cause of inherited mental retardation - is an X-linked disease caused by loss of expression of the FMR1 (fragile X mental retardation 1) gene. In addition to impairment of higher-cognitive functions, FXS patients show a variety of physical and other mental abnormalities. FMRP, the protein encoded by the FMR1 gene, is thought to play a key role in translation, trafficking and targeting of mRNA in neurons. To better understand FMRP's functions, the protein partners and mRNA targets that interact with FMRP have been sought. These and functional studies have revealed links with processes such as cytoskeleton remodelling via the RhoGTPase pathway and mRNA processing via the RNA interference pathway. In this review, we focus on recent insights into the function of FMRP and speculate on how the absence of FMRP might cause the clinical phenotypes seen in FXS patients. Finally, we explore potential therapies for FXS.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2006 · Expert Reviews in Molecular Medicine

Publication Stats

228 Citations
39.11 Total Impact Points


  • 2007-2009
    • University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis
      • Faculty of Medicine
      Nice, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France
  • 2006
    • French National Centre for Scientific Research
      • Institute of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology
      Lutetia Parisorum, Île-de-France, France