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Hum Mol Genet. 2012 Sep 1;21(17):3806-14. doi: 10.1093/hmg/dds208. Epub 2012 May 31.

Postnatal inactivation reveals enhanced requirement for MeCP2 at distinct age windows.

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Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3JR, UK.


Rett Syndrome is a neurological disorder caused by mutations in the X-linked MECP2 gene. Mouse models where Mecp2 is inactivated or mutated recapitulate several features of the disorder and have demonstrated a requirement for the protein to ensure brain function in adult mice. We deleted the Mecp2 gene in ~80% of brain cells at three postnatal ages to determine whether the need for MeCP2 varies with age. Inactivation at all three time points induced Rett-like phenotypes and caused premature death of the animals. We find two threshold ages beyond which the requirement for MeCP2 markedly increases in stringency. The earlier threshold (8-14 weeks), when inactivated mice develop symptoms, represents early adulthood in the mouse and coincides with the period when Mecp2-null mice exhibit terminal symptoms. Unexpectedly, we identified a later age threshold (30-45 weeks) beyond which an 80% reduction in MeCP2 is incompatible with life. This finding suggests an enhanced role for MeCP2 in the aging brain.

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