Severe changes in colon epithelium in the Mecp2-null mouse model of Rett syndrome

Millar-Büchner, Pamela; Philp, Amber R.; Gutierrez, Noemí; Villanueva, Sandra; Kerr, Bredford; Flores, Carlos A.

Keywords: colon, clc-2, mecp2, transepithelial transport, NHE-3


Background: Rett syndrome is best known due to its severe and devastating symptoms in the central nervous system. It is produced by mutations affecting the Mecp2 gene that codes for a transcription factor. Nevertheless, evidence for MECP2 activity has been reported for tissues other than those of the central nervous system. Patients affected by Rett presented with intestinal affections whose origin is still not known. We have observed that the Mecp2-null mice presented with episodes of diarrhoea, and decided to study the intestinal phenotype in these mice. Methods: Mecp2-null mice or bearing the conditional intestinal deletion of MECP2 were used. Morphometric and histologic analysis of intestine, and RT-PCR, western blot and immunodetection were performed on intestinal samples of the animals. Electrical parameters of the intestine were determined by Ussing chamber experiments in freshly isolated colon samples. Results: First we determined that MECP2 protein is mainly expressed in cells of the lower part of the colonic crypts and not in the small intestine. The colon of the Mecp2-null mice was shorter than that of the wild-type. Histological analysis showed that epithelial cells of the surface have abnormal localization of key membrane proteins like ClC-2 and NHE-3 that participate in the electroneutral NaCl absorption; nevertheless, electrogenic secretion and absorption remain unaltered. We also detected an increase in a proliferation marker in the crypts of the colon samples of the Mecp2-null mice, but the specific silencing of Mecp2 from intestinal epithelium was not able to recapitulate the intestinal phenotype of the Mecp2-null mice. Conclusions: In summary, we showed that the colon is severely affected by Mecp2 silencing in mice. Changes in colon length and epithelial histology are similar to those observed in colitis. Changes in the localization of proteins that participate in fluid absorption can explain watery stools, but the exclusive deletion of Mecp2 from the intestine did not reproduce colon changes observed in the Mecp2-null mice, indicating the participation of other cells in this phenotype and the complex interaction between different cell types in this disease.

Más información

Título de la Revista: Molecular and Cellular Pediatrics
Volumen: 3
Número: 1
Fecha de publicación: 2016
Página de inicio: 37
Página final: 37
Idioma: English
Financiamiento/Sponsor: FONDECYT 1110048 and 1151142 (C.A.F.); FONDECYT 1140162 (B.K.); CECs is funded by the Centers Of Excellence Base Financing Program CONICYT.