A mutation-led search for novel functional domains in MeCP2.
ABSTRACT: Most missense mutations causing Rett syndrome (RTT) affect domains of MeCP2 that have been shown to either bind methylated DNA or interact with a transcriptional co-repressor complex. Several mutations, however, including the C-terminal truncations that account for ?10% of cases, fall outside these characterized domains. We studied the molecular consequences of four of these 'non-canonical' mutations in cultured neurons and mice to see if they reveal additional essential domains without affecting known properties of MeCP2. The results show that the mutations partially or strongly deplete the protein and also in some cases interfere with co-repressor recruitment. These mutations therefore impact the activity of known functional domains and do not invoke new molecular causes of RTT. The finding that a stable C-terminal truncation does not compromise MeCP2 function raises the possibility that small molecules which stabilize these mutant proteins may be of therapeutic value.
Project description:Mutations in MECP2 (methyl-CpG-binding protein 2) are linked to the severe postnatal neurodevelopmental disorder RTT (Rett syndrome). MeCP2 was originally characterized as a transcriptional repressor that preferentially bound methylated DNA; however, recent results indicate MeCP2 is a multifunctional protein. MeCP2 binding is now associated with certain expressed genes and involved in nuclear organization as well, indicating that its gene regulatory function is context-dependent. In addition, MeCP2 is proposed to regulate mRNA splicing and a mouse model for RTT shows aberrant mRNA splicing. To further understand MeCP2 and potential roles in RTT pathogenesis, we have employed a biochemical approach to identify the MeCP2 protein complexes present in the mammalian brain. We show that MeCP2 exists in at least four biochemically distinct pools in the brain and characterize one novel brain-derived MeCP2 complex that contains the splicing factor Prpf3 (pre-mRNA processing factor 3). MeCP2 directly interacts with Prpf3 in vitro and in vivo and many MECP2 RTT truncations disrupt the MeCP2-Prpf3 complex. In addition, MeCP2 and Prpf3 associate in vivo with mRNAs from genes known to be expressed when their promoters are associated with MeCP2. These results support a role for MeCP2 in mRNA biogenesis and suggest an additional mechanism for RTT pathophysiology.
Project description:The methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 (MeCP2) gene, MECP2, is an X-linked gene encoding the MeCP2 protein, and mutations of MECP2 cause Rett syndrome (RTT). However, the molecular mechanism of MECP2-mutation-caused RTT is less known. Here we find that MeCP2 could be SUMO-modified by the E3 ligase PIAS1 at Lys-412. MeCP2 phosphorylation (at Ser-421 and Thr-308) facilitates MeCP2 SUMOylation, and MeCP2 SUMOylation is induced by NMDA, IGF-1 and CRF in the rat brain. MeCP2 SUMOylation releases CREB from the repressor complex and enhances Bdnf mRNA expression. Several MECP2 mutations identified in RTT patients show decreased MeCP2 SUMOylation. Re-expression of wild-type MeCP2 or SUMO-modified MeCP2 in Mecp2-null neurons rescues the deficits of social interaction, fear memory and LTP observed in Mecp2 conditional knockout (cKO) mice. These results together reveal an important role of MeCP2 SUMOylation in social interaction, memory and synaptic plasticity, and that abnormal MeCP2 SUMOylation is implicated in RTT.
Project description:Rett syndrome (RTT) is a severe neurological disorder that is caused by mutations in the MECP2 gene. Many missense mutations causing RTT are clustered in the DNA-binding domain of MeCP2, suggesting that association with chromatin is critical for its function. We identified a second mutational cluster in a previously uncharacterized region of MeCP2. We found that RTT mutations in this region abolished the interaction between MeCP2 and the NCoR/SMRT co-repressor complexes. Mice bearing a common missense RTT mutation in this domain exhibited severe RTT-like phenotypes. Our data are compatible with the hypothesis that brain dysfunction in RTT is caused by a loss of the MeCP2 'bridge' between the NCoR/SMRT co-repressors and chromatin.
Project description:Mutations in MECP2 are the cause of Rett syndrome (RTT) in humans, a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects mainly girls. MeCP2 is a protein that binds CpG dinucleotides and is thought to act as a global transcriptional repressor. It is highly expressed in neurons, but not in glia, of the postnatal brain. The timing of MeCP2 activation correlates with the maturation of the central nervous system, and recent reports suggest that MeCP2 may be involved in the formation of synaptic contacts and may function in activity-dependent neuronal gene expression. Deletion or targeted mutation of Mecp2 in mice leads to a Rett-like phenotype. Selective mutation of Mecp2 in postnatal neurons leads to a similar, although delayed, phenotype, suggesting that MeCP2 plays a role in postmitotic neurons. Here we test the hypothesis that the symptoms of RTT are exclusively caused by a neuronal MeCP2 deficiency by placing Mecp2 expression under the control of a neuron-specific promoter. Expression of the Mecp2 transgene in postmitotic neurons resulted in symptoms of severe motor dysfunction. Transgene expression in Mecp2 mutant mice, however, rescued the RTT phenotype.
Project description:Mutations or duplications in MECP2 cause Rett and Rett-like syndromes, neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by mental retardation, motor dysfunction, and autistic behaviors. MeCP2 is expressed in many mammalian tissues and functions as a global repressor of transcription; however, the molecular mechanisms by which MeCP2 dysfunction leads to the neural-specific phenotypes of RTT remain poorly understood. Here, we show that neuronal activity and subsequent calcium influx trigger the de novo phosphorylation of MeCP2 at serine 421 (S421) by a CaMKII-dependent mechanism. MeCP2 S421 phosphorylation is induced selectively in the brain in response to physiological stimuli. Significantly, we find that S421 phosphorylation controls the ability of MeCP2 to regulate dendritic patterning, spine morphogenesis, and the activity-dependent induction of Bdnf transcription. These findings suggest that, by triggering MeCP2 phosphorylation, neuronal activity regulates a program of gene expression that mediates nervous system maturation and that disruption of this process in individuals with mutations in MeCP2 may underlie the neural-specific pathology of RTT.
Project description:Rett syndrome (RTT) is a severe and progressive neurological disorder, which mainly affects young females. Mutations of the methyl-CpG binding protein 2 (MECP2) gene are the most prevalent cause of classical RTT cases. MECP2 mutations or altered expression are also associated with a spectrum of neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorders with recent links to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Collectively, MeCP2 relation to these neurodevelopmental disorders highlights the importance of understanding the molecular mechanisms by which MeCP2 impacts brain development, mental conditions, and compromised brain function. Since MECP2 mutations were discovered to be the primary cause of RTT, a significant progress has been made in the MeCP2 research, with respect to the expression, function and regulation of MeCP2 in the brain and its contribution in RTT pathogenesis. To date, there have been intensive efforts in designing effective therapeutic strategies for RTT benefiting from mouse models and cells collected from RTT patients. Despite significant progress in MeCP2 research over the last few decades, there is still a knowledge gap between the in vitro and in vivo research findings and translating these findings into effective therapeutic interventions in human RTT patients. In this review, we will provide a synopsis of Rett syndrome as a severe neurological disorder and will discuss the role of MeCP2 in RTT pathophysiology.
Project description:Rett syndrome (RTT; OMIM 312750), a progressive neurological disorder, is caused by mutations in methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 (MECP2; OMIM 300005), a ubiquitously expressed factor. A genetic suppressor screen designed to identify therapeutic targets surprisingly revealed that downregulation of the cholesterol biosynthesis pathway improves neurological phenotypes in Mecp2 mutant mice. Here, we show that MeCP2 plays a direct role in regulating lipid metabolism. Mecp2 deletion in mice results in a host of severe metabolic defects caused by lipid accumulation, including insulin resistance, fatty liver, perturbed energy utilization, and adipose inflammation by macrophage infiltration. We show that MeCP2 regulates lipid homeostasis by anchoring the repressor complex containing NCoR1 and HDAC3 to its lipogenesis targets in hepatocytes. Consistently, we find that liver targeted deletion of Mecp2 causes fatty liver disease and dyslipidemia similar to HDAC3 liver-specific deletion. These findings position MeCP2 as a novel component in metabolic homeostasis. Rett syndrome patients also show signs of peripheral dyslipidemia; thus, together these data suggest that RTT should be classified as a neurological disorder with systemic metabolic components. We previously showed that treatment of Mecp2 mice with statin drugs alleviated motor symptoms and improved health and longevity. Lipid metabolism is a highly treatable target; therefore, our results shed light on new metabolic pathways for treatment of Rett syndrome.
Project description:X-ray structure of methyl-CpG binding domain (MBD) of MeCP2, an intrinsically disordered protein (IDP) involved in Rett syndrome, offers a rational basis for defining the spatial distribution for most of the sites where mutations responsible of Rett syndrome, RTT, occur. We have ascribed pathogenicity for mutations of amino acids bearing positively charged side chains, all located at the protein-DNA interface, as positive charge removal cause reduction of the MeCP2-DNA adduct lifetime. Pathogenicity of the frequent proline replacements, outside the DNA contact moiety of MBD, can be attributed to the role of this amino acid for maintaining both unfolded states for unbound MeCP2 and, at the same time, to favor some higher conformational order for stabilizing structural determinants required by protein activity. These hypotheses can be extended to transcription repressor domain, TRD, the other MeCP2-DNA interaction site and, in general, to all the IDP that interact with nucleic acids.
Project description:Rett syndrome (RTT) is an X-linked human neurodevelopmental disorder with features of autism and severe neurological dysfunction in females. RTT is caused by mutations in methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 (MeCP2), a nuclear protein that, in neurons, regulates transcription, is expressed at high levels similar to that of histones, and binds to methylated cytosines broadly across the genome. By phosphotryptic mapping, we identify three sites (S86, S274 and T308) of activity-dependent MeCP2 phosphorylation. Phosphorylation of these sites is differentially induced by neuronal activity, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or agents that elevate the intracellular level of 3',5'-cyclic AMP (cAMP), indicating that MeCP2 may function as an epigenetic regulator of gene expression that integrates diverse signals from the environment. Here we show that the phosphorylation of T308 blocks the interaction of the repressor domain of MeCP2 with the nuclear receptor co-repressor (NCoR) complex and suppresses the ability of MeCP2 to repress transcription. In knock-in mice bearing the common human RTT missense mutation R306C, neuronal activity fails to induce MeCP2 T308 phosphorylation, suggesting that the loss of T308 phosphorylation might contribute to RTT. Consistent with this possibility, the mutation of MeCP2 T308A in mice leads to a decrease in the induction of a subset of activity-regulated genes and to RTT-like symptoms. These findings indicate that the activity-dependent phosphorylation of MeCP2 at T308 regulates the interaction of MeCP2 with the NCoR complex, and that RTT in humans may be due, in part, to the loss of activity-dependent MeCP2 T308 phosphorylation and a disruption of the phosphorylation-regulated interaction of MeCP2 with the NCoR complex.
Project description:Rett syndrome (RTT), a neurodevelopmental disorder that primarily affects girls, is characterised by a period of apparently normal development until 6-18 months of age when motor and communication abilities regress. More than 95% of individuals with RTT have mutations in methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 (MECP2), whose protein product modulates gene transcription. Surprisingly, although the disorder is caused by mutations in a single gene, disease severity in affected individuals can be quite variable. To explore the source of this phenotypic variability, we propose that specific MECP2 mutations lead to different degrees of disease severity.Using a database of 1052 participants assessed over 4940 unique visits, the largest cohort of both typical and atypical RTT patients studied to date, we examined the relationship between MECP2 mutation status and various phenotypic measures over time.In general agreement with previous studies, we found that particular mutations, such as p.Arg133Cys, p.Arg294X, p.Arg306Cys, 3° truncations and other point mutations, were relatively less severe in both typical and atypical RTT. In contrast, p.Arg106Trp, p.Arg168X, p.Arg255X, p.Arg270X, splice sites, deletions, insertions and deletions were significantly more severe. We also demonstrated that, for most mutation types, clinical severity increases with age. Furthermore, of the clinical features of RTT, ambulation, hand use and age at onset of stereotypies are strongly linked to overall disease severity.We have confirmed that MECP2 mutation type is a strong predictor of disease severity. These data also indicate that clinical severity continues to become progressively worse regardless of initial severity. These findings will allow clinicians and families to anticipate and prepare better for the needs of individuals with RTT.