The diversity of protein isoforms arising from alternative splicing is thought to modulate fine-tuning of synaptic plasticity. Fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP), a neuronal RNA binding protein, exists in isoforms as a result of alternative splicing, but the contribution of these isoforms to neural plasticity are not well understood. We show that two isoforms of Drosophila melanogaster FMRP (dFMR1) have differential roles in mediating neural development and behavior functions conferred by the dfmr1 gene. These isoforms differ in the presence of a protein interaction module that is related to prion domains and is functionally conserved between FMRPs. Expression of both isoforms is necessary for optimal performance in tests of short-and long-term memory of courtship training. The presence or absence of the protein interaction domain may govern the types of ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complexes dFMR1 assembles into, with different RNPs regulating gene expression in a manner necessary for establishing distinct phases of memory formation.
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