A partial loss of function allele of Methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 predicts a human neurodevelopmental syndrome

Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Houston, TX 77030, USA.
Human Molecular Genetics (Impact Factor: 6.68). 07/2008; 17(12):1718-27. DOI: 10.1093/hmg/ddn062
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Rett Syndrome, an X-linked dominant neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by regression of language and hand use, is primarily caused by mutations in methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 (MECP2). Loss of function mutations in MECP2 are also found in other neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism, Angelman-like syndrome and non-specific mental retardation. Furthermore, duplication of the MECP2 genomic region results in mental retardation with speech and social problems. The common features of human neurodevelopmental disorders caused by the loss or increase of MeCP2 function suggest that even modest alterations of MeCP2 protein levels result in neurodevelopmental problems. To determine whether a small reduction in MeCP2 level has phenotypic consequences, we characterized a conditional mouse allele of Mecp2 that expresses 50% of the wild-type level of MeCP2. Upon careful behavioral analysis, mice that harbor this allele display a spectrum of abnormalities such as learning and motor deficits, decreased anxiety, altered social behavior and nest building, decreased pain recognition and disrupted breathing patterns. These results indicate that precise control of MeCP2 is critical for normal behavior and predict that human neurodevelopmental disorders will result from a subtle reduction in MeCP2 expression.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Rett syndrome, one of the most common causes of mental retardation in females, is caused by mutations in the X chromosomal gene MECP2. Mice deficient for MeCP2 recapitulate some of the symptoms seen in patients with Rett syndrome. It has been shown that reactivation of silent MECP2 alleles can reverse some of the symptoms in these mice. We have generated a knockin mouse model for translational research that carries the most common nonsense mutation in Rett syndrome, R168X. In this article we describe the phenotype of this mouse model. In male MeCP2R168X mice life span was reduced to 12-14 weeks and bodyweight was significantly lower than in wild type littermates. First symptoms including tremor, hind limb clasping and inactivity occurred at age 27 days. At age 6 weeks nest building, rotarod, open-field and elevated plus maze experiments showed impaired motor performance, reduced activity and decreased anxiety-like behavior. Plethysmography at the same time showed apneas and irregular breathing with reduced frequency. Female MeCP2R168X mice showed no significant abnormalities except decreased performance on the rotarod at age 9 months. In conclusion we show that the male MeCP2R168X mice have a phenotype similar to that seen in MECP2 knockout mouse models and are therefore well suited for translational research. The female mice, however, have a much milder and less constant phenotype making such research with this mouse model more challenging.
    PLoS ONE 12/2014; 9(12):e115444. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0115444 · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: RNF4 is an E3 ubiquitin ligase originally identified as a transcription co-activator. The mechanism how RNF4 promotes transcription remains unclear. In this study, I found that RNF4 antagonizes transcriptional repression mediated by DNA methylation. RNF4 does not promote DNA demethylation, but mediates the ubiquitination of MeCP2, a Methyl-CpG-binding domain (MBD) protein. Removal of MeCP2 from gene promoters activates transcription. This study thus not only uncovers how RNF4 functions as a transcription activator, but also reveals the mechanism how MeCP2 protein stability is regulated.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 10/2014; 289(49). DOI:10.1074/jbc.C114.611558 · 4.60 Impact Factor
  • Source


Available from
May 16, 2014