Neurodevelopmental disorders in males related to the gene causing Rett syndrome in females (MECP2)

Eur J Paediatr Neurol. 2003;7(1):5-12. doi: 10.1016/s1090-3798(02)00134-4.


Mutations in the MECP2 (methyl-CpG-binding protein 2) gene are known to cause Rett syndrome, a well-known and clinically defined neurodevelopmental disorder. Rett syndrome occurs almost exclusively in females and for a long time was thought to be an X-linked dominant condition lethal in hemizygous males. Since the discovery of the MECP2 gene as the cause of Rett syndrome in 1999, MECP2 mutations have, however, also been reported in males. These males phenotypically have classical Rett syndrome when the mutation arises as somatic mosaicism or when they have an extra X chromosome. In all other cases, males with MECP2 mutations show diverse phenotypes different from classical Rett syndrome. The spectrum ranges from severe congenital encephalopathy, mental retardation with various neurological symptoms, occasionally in association with psychiatric illness, to mild mental retardation only. We present a 21-year-old male with severe mental retardation, spastic tetraplegia, dystonia, apraxia and neurogenic scoliosis. A history of early hypotonia evolving into severe spasticity, slowing of head growth, breathing irregularities and good visual interactive behaviour were highly suggestive of Rett syndrome. He has a de novo missense mutation in exon 3 of the MECP2 gene (P225L). The clinical spectrum and molecular findings in males with MECP2 mutations are reviewed.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methyl-CpG-Binding Protein 2
  • Mutation, Missense
  • Phenotype
  • Repressor Proteins*
  • Rett Syndrome / genetics*


  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • MECP2 protein, human
  • Methyl-CpG-Binding Protein 2
  • Repressor Proteins

Associated data

  • OMIM/312750