Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is the most common heritable form of cognitive impairment. It results from a deficiency in the fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP) due to a CGG repeat expansion in the 5′-UTR of the X-linked FMR1
gene. When CGGs expand beyond 200 copies, they lead to epigenetic gene silencing of the gene. In addition, the greater the allele size, the more likely it will become unstable and exhibit mosaicism for expansion size between and within tissues in affected individuals. The timing and mechanisms of FMR1
epigenetic gene silencing and repeat instability are far from being understood given the lack of appropriate cellular and animal models that can fully recapitulate the molecular features characteristic of the disease pathogenesis in humans. This review summarizes the data collected to date from mutant human embryonic stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells, and hybrid fusions, and discusses their contribution to the investigation of FXS, their key limitations, and future prospects.
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