Tag Archives: Genetics

A metaphor for MECP2 testing

 

7heartsokAs more families affected by MECP2 duplication are discovering that sometimes the wrong tests have been ordered leading to incorrect information being given, this simple metaphor may be useful  for  understanding the difference between two MECP2-related conditions and how testing applies to them.

Imagine that you are helping out at major international championship card game. Continue reading

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MECP2 Duplication is NOT Rett Syndrome

CAUTION2I hate to be writing this in 2017, but there still seems to be a lot of confusion between Rett Syndrome and MECP2 duplication syndrome. So let me start simply by saying, THESE ARE NOT THE SAME. They are very different and in some ways they are completely opposite of each other.

Nevertheless, a lot of people including a significant number of doctors, healthcare professionals, and researchers seem to be confusing these two conditions. I am not pointing out these groups just to pick on them; I feel like I have to point this out because patients and their families are relying on these people to provide appropriate care and advice. If they confuse these conditions, real harm can result. Continue reading

New Research on the Role of MECP2

flaskResearch newly published in PNAS, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, helps to clarify how the MeCP2 protein regulates genes, and may help provide an explanation of the role of MECP2-related disorders in autism. Researchers at Harvard University and the Washington University School of Medicine published their findings showing that MeCP2 plays a particular role in regulating very long genes in the brain. They found that MeCP2 reduced the activity of genes in proportion to the number of available sites for methylation. Therefore, the longer the gene, the greater the role of MECP2 in regulating the gene, and thus the very long genes in the brain are most sensitive to changes in levels of MeCP2.

Previous research has suggested that the function of very long genes in the brain may be a common denominator in at least many of the underlying causes  of autism. This new finding may suggest that both the underactivity of the MECP2 gene found in Rett syndrome and overactivity of the MECP2 gene found in MECP2 duplication syndrome may result in impaired responsiveness of these very long genes, potentially producing symptoms of autism. Continue reading

Unity, Strength, Hope Conference

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This is a reminder about the upcoming conference on MECP2 related disorders in June. This event is really two conferences in one: (1) A family conference for those whose family members are affected by Rett syndrome, MECP2 duplication syndrome, FOXG1 syndrome, CDKL5 disorder, or other MECP2 related syndromes., and (2) a concurrent professional and research symposium on the same disorders. The conference will take place at the Eaglewood Resort in Illinois, June 22-24, 2016.

 

MeCP2 and the adult brain

mouseA recent study looks at the effects of the MeCP2 protein levels on  adult brains. Although this study looked at blocking MeCP2 [similar to Rett syndrome and the opposite of MECP2 duplication syndrome], the fact that it showed different kinds of responses depending on the developmental maturity of the lab mice, suggests that the most critical role of the MeCP2 protein may be in the function of the adult brain.

This finding is consistent with Continue reading

More Research on Cannabidiol & Seizures

flaskSeveral new studies provide encouraging results about the use of cannabidiol (CBD) oil to treat seizure disorders that are not controlled by other medications. Research also, however, points toward important cautions.

Already in 2016,at least nine studies have been published on CBD and seizures. Two 2016 studies, one from Israel (Tzadok et al.,, 2016) and one the United States (Devinsky et al., 2016) are generally reporting particularly encouraging results. This is not to say the others are negative, just less relevant. The two discussed here are important because they include some results Continue reading

Another Big Step Forward with CRISPR

NEW3“Using a previously undescribed approach involving single guide RNA, we successfully removed large genome rearrangement in primary cells of an individual with an X chromosome duplication including MECP2.”

Wojtal, D., Kemaladewi, D. U., Malam, Z., Abdullah, S., Wong, T. W., Hyatt, E., et al. (2016). Spell Checking Nature: Versatility of CRISPR/Cas9 for Developing Treatments for Inherited Disorders. American Journal of Human  Genetics, 98(1), 90-101.

2015 and 2016 have already been marked by some major breakthroughs in potential steps toward treatment of MECP2 Duplication Syndrome. This  report in the American Journal of Human Genetics definitely adds to collection. Continue reading

MECP2: A Big but Somewhat Blurry Picture

QuestionMarkOPINION: This week Nature published a very interesting and possibly groundbreaking study on schizophrenia. It doesn’t mention MECP2 but it does talk about the role of the pruning process in the brain. The way our brains develop is by creating a bunch of new connections and then trimming away the ones that are not needed or helpful. The article suggests that schizophrenia develops when the pruning process goes too far in some parts of the brain.  This is also consistent in some earlier reports that did suggest that certain defects in MECP2 were implicated in early onset schizophrenia.

Too much or too little MeCP2 activity has also been connected to a number of other conditions, such as Continue reading

Rats, Mice, MECP2 Differences and Implications

mouseOn first reading, differences between mice and rats in responses to missing aMECP2 gene didn’t seem to relevant to research on treating extra MECP2 gene activity in humans with MECP2 Duplication Syndrome. Later, it suddenly hit me that this could be very relevant and important.  This research suggests that rats may be a better model for studying MECP2 Gene activity than mice that are currently being used in most of the studies. In a more general sense it also suggests that the role of the MECP2 gene may be species specific. Continue reading

More thoughts on undiagnosed cases

CAUTION2One of the facts that suggests that it is likely that there are still many more undiagnosed cases of MECP2 Duplication Syndrome than there are diagnosed cases is that geographic, political, and socio-economic factors appear to play important factors in incidence. While some conditions and syndromes are more common in certain gene pools, there is no evidence so far that MECP2 Duplication Syndrome discriminates on the basis of race, geography, or family income. Continue reading