Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Carmen Sato-Bigbee


Methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 (MeCP2 is) is an epigenetic regulator that binds to methylated DNA. Initially identified as transcriptional repressor, MeCP2 also binds to different proteins functioning as gene activator. Importantly, MecCP2 gene mutations and changes in MeCP2 levels are associated to several forms of mental retardation and autism-related disorders; including Rett, a neurodevelopmental disorder affecting primarily girls. While brain MeCP2 was considered to be exclusively neuronal, this regulator is also present in glia. We found that oligodendrocytes, the myelinating cells of the central nervous system (CNS), express particularly high MeCP2 levels at a developmental stage that precedes their final maturation. Moreover, downregulation of MeCP2 levels by treatment of immature oligodendrocytes with small interference RNA (siRNA), reduced the expression of 14 kDa myelin basic protein (MBP) and MOG, two markers of mature oligodendrocytes. These observations raise the possibility that oligodendrocytes have a direct participation in Rett syndrome and other autism-related disorders.


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