Buffering of transcription rate by mRNA half-life is a conserved feature of Rett syndrome models

Nat Commun. 2023 Apr 5;14(1):1896. doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-37339-6.


Transcriptional changes in Rett syndrome (RTT) are assumed to directly correlate with steady-state mRNA levels, but limited evidence in mice suggests that changes in transcription can be compensated by post-transcriptional regulation. We measure transcription rate and mRNA half-life changes in RTT patient neurons using RATEseq, and re-interpret nuclear and whole-cell RNAseq from Mecp2 mice. Genes are dysregulated by changing transcription rate or half-life and are buffered when both change. We utilized classifier models to predict the direction of transcription rate changes and find that combined frequencies of three dinucleotides are better predictors than CA and CG. MicroRNA and RNA-binding Protein (RBP) motifs are enriched in 3'UTRs of genes with half-life changes. Nuclear RBP motifs are enriched on buffered genes with increased transcription rate. We identify post-transcriptional mechanisms in humans and mice that alter half-life or buffer transcription rate changes when a transcriptional modulator gene is mutated in a neurodevelopmental disorder.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Half-Life
  • Humans
  • Methyl-CpG-Binding Protein 2 / metabolism
  • Mice
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Rett Syndrome* / genetics


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Methyl-CpG-Binding Protein 2