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Neuroscience. 2013 Feb 12;231:195-205. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2012.11.058. Epub 2012 Dec 10.

Reduced seizure threshold and altered network oscillatory properties in a mouse model of Rett syndrome.

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Institute for Neuroscience and Psychology, College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK.


Rett syndrome (RTT) is a disorder with a pronounced neurological phenotype and is caused mainly by mutations in the X-linked gene MECP2. A common feature of RTT is an abnormal electroencephalography and a propensity for seizures. In the current study we aimed to assess brain network excitability and seizure propensity in a mouse model of RTT. Mice in which Mecp2 expression was silenced (Mecp2(stop/y)) showed a higher seizure score (mean=6 ± 0.8 compared to 4±0.2 in wild-type [WT]) and more rapid seizure onset (median onset=10 min in Mecp2(stop/y) and 32 min in WT) when challenged with the convulsant drug kainic acid (25mg/kg). Hippocampal slices from Mecp2(stop/y) brain displayed no spontaneous field potential activities under control conditions but showed higher power gamma frequency field potential oscillations compared to WT in response to kainic acid (400 nM) in vitro. Brain slices challenged with the GABA(A)-receptor antagonist bicuculline (0.1-10 μM) and the potassium channel blocker 4-aminopyridine (1-50 μM) also revealed differences between genotypes with hippocampal circuits from Mecp2(stop/y) mouse slices showing enhanced epileptiform burst duration and frequency. In contrast to these network level findings, single cell analysis of pyramidal cells by whole-cell patch clamp recording revealed no detectable differences in synaptic or biophysical properties between methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 (MeCP2)-containing and MeCP2-deficient neurons. These data support the proposal that loss of MeCP2 alters network level excitability in the brain to promote epileptogenesis.

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