Mutations in the methyl-CpG binding protein 2 (MECP2) gene cause Rett syndrome (RTT), a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by the loss of language and motor skills during early childhood. We generated mice with a truncating mutation similar to those found in RTT patients. These mice appeared normal and exhibited normal motor function for about 6 weeks, but then developed a progressive neurological disease that includes many features of RTT: tremors, motor impairments, hypoactivity, increased anxiety-related behavior, seizures, kyphosis, and stereotypic forelimb motions. Additionally, we show that although the truncated MeCP2 protein in these mice localizes normally to heterochromatic domains in vivo, histone H3 is hyperacetylated, providing evidence that the chromatin architecture is abnormal and that gene expression may be misregulated in this model of Rett syndrome.
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