The impact of MeCP2 loss- or gain-of-function on synaptic plasticity

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2013 Jan;38(1):212-9. doi: 10.1038/npp.2012.116. Epub 2012 Jul 11.


Methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 (MeCP2) is a transcriptional regulator of gene expression that is an important epigenetic factor in the maintenance and development of the central nervous system. The neurodevelopmental disorders Rett syndrome and MECP2 duplication syndrome arise from loss-of-function and gain-of-function alterations in MeCP2 expression, respectively. Several animal models have been developed to recapitulate the symptoms of Rett syndrome and MECP2 duplication syndrome. Cell morphology, neurotransmission, and cellular processes that support learning and memory are compromised as a result of MeCP2 loss- or gain-of-function. Interestingly, loss-of-MeCP2 function and MeCP2 overexpression trigger diametrically opposite changes in synaptic transmission. These findings indicate that the precise regulation of MeCP2 expression is a key requirement for the maintenance of synaptic and neuronal homeostasis and underscore its importance in central nervous system function. This review highlights the functional role of MeCP2 in the brain as a regulator of synaptic and neuronal plasticity as well as its etiological role in the development of Rett syndrome and MECP2 duplication syndrome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Methyl-CpG-Binding Protein 2 / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Rett Syndrome / genetics
  • Rett Syndrome / metabolism
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*


  • MECP2 protein, human
  • Methyl-CpG-Binding Protein 2