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MeCP2 deficiency results in robust Rett-like behavioural and motor deficits in male and female rats

Patterson, Kelsey C and Hawkins, Virginia E and Arps, Kara M and Mulkey, Daniel K and Olsen, Michelle L (2016) MeCP2 deficiency results in robust Rett-like behavioural and motor deficits in male and female rats. Human Molecular Genetics, 25 (15). pp. 3303-3320. ISSN 0964-6906

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Abstract

Since the identification of MECP2 as the causative gene in the majority of Rett Syndrome (RTT) cases, transgenic mouse models have played a critical role in our understanding of this disease. The use of additional mammalian RTT models offers the promise of further elucidating critical early mechanisms of disease as well as providing new avenues for translational studies. We have identified significant abnormalities in growth as well as motor and behavioural function in a novel zincfinger nuclease model of RTT utilizing both male and female rats throughout development. Male rats lacking MeCP2 (Mecp2ZFN/y) were noticeably symptomatic as early as postnatal day 21, with most dying by postnatal day 55, while females lacking one copy of Mecp2 (Mecp2ZFN/þ) displayed a more protracted disease course. Brain weights of Mecp2ZFN/y and Mecp2ZFN/þ rats were significantly reduced by postnatal day 14 and 21, respectively. Early motor and breathing abnormalities were apparent in Mecp2ZFN/y rats, whereas Mecp2ZFN/þ rats displayed functional irregularities later in development. The large size of this species will provide profound advantages in the identification of early disease mechanisms and the development of appropriately timed therapeutics. The current study establishes a foundational basis for the continued utilization of this rat model in future RTT research.

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