MECP2 regulates cortical plasticity underlying a learned behaviour in adult female mice

Nat Commun. 2017 Jan 18:8:14077. doi: 10.1038/ncomms14077.


Neurodevelopmental disorders are marked by inappropriate synaptic connectivity early in life, but how disruption of experience-dependent plasticity contributes to cognitive and behavioural decline in adulthood is unclear. Here we show that pup gathering behaviour and associated auditory cortical plasticity are impaired in female Mecp2het mice, a model of Rett syndrome. In response to learned maternal experience, Mecp2het females exhibited transient changes to cortical inhibitory networks typically associated with limited plasticity. Averting these changes in Mecp2het through genetic or pharmacological manipulations targeting the GABAergic network restored gathering behaviour. We propose that pup gathering learning triggers a transient epoch of inhibitory plasticity in auditory cortex that is dysregulated in Mecp2het. In this window of heightened sensitivity to sensory and social cues, Mecp2 mutations suppress adult plasticity independently from their effects on early development.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Male
  • Maternal Behavior
  • Methyl-CpG-Binding Protein 2 / genetics
  • Methyl-CpG-Binding Protein 2 / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neuronal Plasticity*
  • Rett Syndrome / genetics
  • Rett Syndrome / metabolism*
  • Rett Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Rett Syndrome / psychology*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism


  • Methyl-CpG-Binding Protein 2
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid