Indexed on: 29 Nov '11Published on: 29 Nov '11Published in: Nature Neuroscience
Mutations in the MECP2 gene cause the autism spectrum disorder Rett syndrome (RTT). One of the most common MeCP2 mutations associated with RTT occurs at threonine 158, converting it to methionine (T158M) or alanine (T158A). To understand the role of T158 mutations in the pathogenesis of RTT, we generated knockin mice that recapitulate the MeCP2 T158A mutation. We found a causal role for T158A mutation in the development of RTT-like phenotypes, including developmental regression, motor dysfunction, and learning and memory deficits. These phenotypes resemble those present in Mecp2 null mice and manifest through a reduction in MeCP2 binding to methylated DNA and a decrease in MeCP2 protein stability. The age-dependent development of event-related neuronal responses was disrupted by MeCP2 mutation, suggesting that impaired neuronal circuitry underlies the pathogenesis of RTT and that assessment of event-related potentials (ERPs) may serve as a biomarker for RTT and treatment evaluation.