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Elife. 2014 Jun 26;3. doi: 10.7554/eLife.02676.

Rett-causing mutations reveal two domains critical for MeCP2 function and for toxicity in MECP2 duplication syndrome mice.

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Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, United States.
Division of Genetics, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, United States.


Loss of function of the X-linked gene encoding methyl-CpG binding protein 2 (MeCP2) causes the progressive neurological disorder Rett syndrome (RTT). Conversely, duplication or triplication of Xq28 causes an equally wide-ranging progressive neurological disorder, MECP2 duplication syndrome, whose features overlap somewhat with RTT. To understand which MeCP2 functions cause toxicity in the duplication syndrome, we generated mouse models expressing endogenous Mecp2 along with a RTT-causing mutation in either the methyl-CpG binding domain (MBD) or the transcriptional repression domain (TRD). We determined that both the MBD and TRD must function for doubling MeCP2 to be toxic. Mutating the MBD reproduces the null phenotype and expressing the TRD mutant produces milder RTT phenotypes, yet both mutations are harmless when expressed with endogenous Mecp2. Surprisingly, mutating the TRD is more detrimental than deleting the entire C-terminus, indicating a dominant-negative effect on MeCP2 function, likely due to the disruption of a basic cluster.


MECP2 duplication syndrome; MeCP2; Rett syndrome; genetics; human biology; medicine; mouse; neurobiology; neuroscience

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