MECP2-Related Disorders in Males

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Sep 4;22(17):9610. doi: 10.3390/ijms22179610.


Methyl CpG binding protein 2 (MECP2) is located at Xq28 and is a multifunctional gene with ubiquitous expression. Loss-of-function mutations in MECP2 are associated with Rett syndrome (RTT), which is a well-characterized disorder that affects mainly females. In boys, however, mutations in MECP2 can generate a wide spectrum of clinical presentations that range from mild intellectual impairment to severe neonatal encephalopathy and premature death. Thus, males can be more difficult to classify and diagnose than classical RTT females. In addition, there are some variants of unknown significance in MECP2, which further complicate the diagnosis of these children. Conversely, the entire duplication of the MECP2 gene is related to MECP2 duplication syndrome (MDS). Unlike in RTT, in MDS, males are predominantly affected. Usually, the duplication is inherited from an apparently asymptomatic carrier mother. Both syndromes share some characteristics, but also differ in some aspects regarding the clinical picture and evolution. In the following review, we present a thorough description of the different types of MECP2 variants and alterations that can be found in males, and explore several genotype-phenotype correlations, although there is still a lot to understand.

Keywords: MECP2; MECP2 duplication syndrome; Rett syndrome; encephalopathy; loss-of-function; males; point mutation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Diseases / genetics
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / genetics
  • Genetic Association Studies / methods
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Retardation, X-Linked / genetics
  • Methyl-CpG-Binding Protein 2 / genetics*
  • Methyl-CpG-Binding Protein 2 / metabolism*
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Phenotype
  • Rett Syndrome / genetics


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

Supplementary concepts

  • Lubs X-linked mental retardation syndrome