Loss of MeCP2 Causes Urological Dysfunction and Contributes to Death by Kidney Failure in Mouse Models of Rett Syndrome

PLoS One. 2016 Nov 9;11(11):e0165550. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0165550. eCollection 2016.


Rett Syndrome (RTT) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by loss of acquired skills during development, autonomic dysfunction, and an increased risk for premature lethality. Clinical experience identified a subset of individuals with RTT that present with urological dysfunction including individuals with frequent urinary tract infections, kidney stones, and urine retention requiring frequent catheterization for bladder voiding. To determine if urologic dysfunction is a feature of RTT, we queried the Rett Syndrome Natural History Study, a repository of clinical data from over 1000 individuals with RTT and found multiple instances of urological dysfunction. We then evaluated urological function in a mouse model of RTT and found an abnormal pattern of micturition. Both male and female mice possessing Mecp2 mutations show a decrease in urine output per micturition event. Furthermore, we identified signs of kidney failure secondary to urethral obstruction. Although genetic strain background significantly affects both survival and penetrance of the urethral obstruction phenotype, survival and penetrance of urethral obstruction do not directly correlate. We have identified an additional phenotype caused by loss of MeCP2, urological dysfunction. Furthermore, we urge caution in the interpretation of survival data as an endpoint in preclinical studies, especially where causes of mortality are poorly characterized.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Databases, Factual
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methyl-CpG-Binding Protein 2 / deficiency
  • Methyl-CpG-Binding Protein 2 / genetics*
  • Mice
  • Mutation*
  • Penetrance
  • Renal Insufficiency / complications
  • Renal Insufficiency / genetics*
  • Renal Insufficiency / mortality
  • Renal Insufficiency / physiopathology
  • Rett Syndrome / complications
  • Rett Syndrome / genetics*
  • Rett Syndrome / mortality
  • Rett Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Species Specificity
  • Survival Analysis
  • Urethral Obstruction / complications
  • Urethral Obstruction / genetics*
  • Urethral Obstruction / mortality
  • Urethral Obstruction / physiopathology
  • Urinary Retention / complications
  • Urinary Retention / genetics*
  • Urinary Retention / mortality
  • Urinary Retention / physiopathology


  • Mecp2 protein, mouse
  • Methyl-CpG-Binding Protein 2