MECP2 analysis in mentally retarded patients: implications for routine DNA diagnostics

Eur J Hum Genet. 2004 Jan;12(1):24-8. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejhg.5201080.


Rett syndrome (RTT) is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders in females. The disease is caused by mutations in the methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 gene (MECP2), and various mutations have been reported. The phenotypic spectrum in both female and male patients is diverse, ranging from very mild to congenital encephalopathy and prenatal lethality. In this study, the question was addressed as to whether implementation of systematic screening of MECP2 in patients with an unexplained mental retardation in DNA diagnostics would be reasonable, and the spectrum of phenotypes resulting from mutations in this gene was further explored. Mutational analysis of MECP2 was performed in mentally retarded female patients who were negative for FMR1 CGG repeat expansion, in male and female patients with clinical features suggestive of either Angelman or Prader-Willi syndrome without methylation defects on chromosome 15q11-q13. In the cohort of females negative for the molecular Fragile-X studies (N=92), one nonsense mutation (p.Q406X) was found. In the cohort of Angelman-negative patients (N=63), two missense mutations (p.R133C in a female patient and a mosaic p.T158M in a male patient) were found, which have been reported many times in patients with classical RTT syndrome. In the Prader-Willi-negative group (N=98), no pathogenic mutations were found. The results support testing of patients with features suggestive of Angelman syndrome, but without methylation defects on chromosome 15q11-q13 for mutations in MECP2. In the remaining patients with unexplained mental retardation, additional clinical features should determine whether analysis of MECP2 is indicated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone*
  • DNA Mutational Analysis / methods*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methyl-CpG-Binding Protein 2
  • Persons with Mental Disabilities
  • Repressor Proteins*
  • Rett Syndrome / genetics
  • Rett Syndrome / pathology*


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