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J Neurosci. 2009 Sep 9;29(36):11263-70. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1019-09.2009.

Intact long-term potentiation but reduced connectivity between neocortical layer 5 pyramidal neurons in a mouse model of Rett syndrome.

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Biology Department, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts 02453, USA.


Mutations in MECP2 cause Rett syndrome and some related forms of mental retardation and autism. Mecp2-null mice exhibit symptoms reminiscent of Rett syndrome including deficits in learning. Previous reports demonstrated impaired long-term potentiation (LTP) in slices of symptomatic Mecp2-null mice, and decreased excitatory neurotransmission, but the causal relationship between these phenomena is unclear. Reduced plasticity could lead to altered transmission, or reduced excitatory transmission could alter the ability to induce LTP. To help distinguish these possibilities, we compared LTP induction and baseline synaptic transmission at synapses between layer 5 cortical pyramidal neurons in slices of wild-type and Mecp2-null mice. Paired recordings reveal that LTP induction mechanisms are intact in Mecp2-null connections, even after the onset of symptoms. However, fewer connections were found in Mecp2-null mice and individual connections were weaker. These data suggest that loss of MeCP2 function reduces excitatory synaptic connectivity and that this precedes deficits in plasticity.

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