MeCP2 is required for normal development of GABAergic circuits in the thalamus.

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Animals, Animals-Newborn, Evoked-Potentials, Immunohistochemistry, Methyl-CpG-Binding-Protein-2, Mice, Mice-Inbred-C57BL, Mice-Knockout, Neural-Inhibition, Neural-Pathways, Neurons, Patch-Clamp-Techniques, Synapses, Synaptic-Transmission, Thalamic-Nuclei, Thalamus, Vesicular-Inhibitory-Amino-Acid-Transport-Proteins, gamma-Aminobutyric-Acid

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J Neurophysiol 2010 May; 103(5):2470-81.


Methyl-CpG binding protein 2 (MeCP2) is highly expressed in neurons in the vertebrate brain, and mutations of the gene encoding MeCP2 cause the neurodevelopmental disorder Rett syndrome. This study examines the role of MeCP2 in the development and function of thalamic GABAergic circuits. Whole cell recordings were carried out in excitatory neurons of the ventrobasal complex (VB) of the thalamus and in inhibitory neurons of the reticular thalamic nucleus (RTN) in acute brain slices from mice aged P6 through P23. At P14-P16, the number of quantal GABAergic events was decreased in VB neurons but increased in RTN neurons of Mecp2-null mice, without any change in the amplitude or kinetics of quantal events. There was no difference between mutant and wild-type mice in paired-pulse ratios of evoked GABAergic responses in the VB or the RTN. On the other hand, unitary responses evoked by minimal stimulation were decreased in the VB but increased in the RTN of mutants. Similar changes in the frequency of quantal events were observed at P21-P23 in both the VB and RTN. At P6, however, quantal GABAergic transmission was altered only in the VB not the RTN. Immunostaining of vesicular GABA transporter showed opposite changes in the number of GABAergic synaptic terminals in the VB and RTN of Mecp2-null mice at P18-P20. The loss of MeCP2 had no significant effect on intrinsic properties of RTN neurons recorded at P15-P17. Our findings suggest that MeCP2 differentially regulates the development of GABAergic synapses in excitatory and inhibitory neurons in the thalamus.

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