MeCP2 is a transcriptional repressor with abundant binding sites in genomic chromatin

Cell. 1997 Feb 21;88(4):471-81. doi: 10.1016/s0092-8674(00)81887-5.


MeCP2 is an abundant mammalian protein that binds to methylated CpG. We have found that native and recombinant MeCP2 repress transcription in vitro from methylated promoters but do not repress nonmethylated promoters. Repression is nonlinearly dependent on the local density of methylation, becoming significant at the density found in bulk vertebrate genomic DNA. Transient transfection using fusions with the GAL4 DNA binding domain identified a region of MeCP2 that is capable of long-range repression in vivo. Moreover, MeCP2 is able to displace histone H1 from preassembled chromatin that contains methyl-CpG. These properties, together with the abundance of MeCP2 and the high frequency of its 2 bp binding site, suggest a role as a global transcriptional repressor in vertebrate genomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites / genetics
  • Brain Chemistry
  • Chromatin / chemistry
  • Chromatin / metabolism*
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone*
  • DNA Methylation
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / chemistry
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology
  • Genome
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Methyl-CpG-Binding Protein 2
  • Nucleosomes / genetics
  • Nucleosomes / metabolism
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Rats
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics*
  • Transcription, Genetic / genetics*


  • Chromatin
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Histones
  • Mecp2 protein, rat
  • Methyl-CpG-Binding Protein 2
  • Nucleosomes
  • Repressor Proteins