New in Basic Research

Dow we really know what the MECP2 Gene does?

Well, in one sense the answer is YES. What does the MECP2 Gene do? It instructs the body to make MECP2 protein. The next question, of course, is what does the MECP2 Protein do. This seems to be a more difficult question It seems to do a lot of things. It turns on some processes in the body and turns off others. There is some reason to believe that MECP2 may play a role in genes responding to environmental stimuli and guiding the development of the nervous system to process these stimuli. For example, nerves developing in response to auditory stimuli that allow us to develop the ability to learn human language.

Professor Adrian Bird and his colleagues at Edinburgh University in Scotland has published a new study in Molecular Cell that may help shed light on the role of MECP2. professor Bird was a pioneer in the early discovery of the MECP2 gene. The study suggests that MECP2 may be much more abundant in the central nervous system and play a role in many more cells than previously thought.  Whether this is good news or bad for children with MECP2 Duplication Syndrome is not clear. However Professor Bird believes that this may mean the mechanism of Rett syndrome (and possibly MECP2 Duplication Syndrome) are simpler than previously believed and that this may mean that a treatment will be easier to identify.

In any case, the new research, if validated, may be a step toward understanding the role of MECP2 and that understanding could be a step toward treatment. If this is true, the road to a practical benefit may be a long one, but this could be a step along that journey.

Neuronal MeCP2 Is Expressed at Near Histone-Octamer Levels and Globally Alters the Chromatin State
Pages 457-468
Peter J. Skene, Robert S. Illingworth, Shaun Webb, Alastair R.W. Kerr, Keith D. James, Daniel J. Turner, Rob Andrews, Adrian P. Bird

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One response to “New in Basic Research

  1. Your readers might be interested in reading a blog interview with Adrian Bird http://rettsyndrome.wordpress.com/2010/02/25/redefining-the-function-of-the-rett-syndrome-protein/

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