MeCP2 and chromatin: An alternative to the global binding hypothesis

Rett syndrome is a severe neurodevelopmental disease that affects approximately one in 10,000 girls. Progressive symptoms begin at a very young age and worsen through childhood. These include loss of speech, purposeful hand use, ability to walk, and the development of seizures. In 85 per cent of cases, the cause of Rett syndrome has been traced to mutations of a protein known as MeCP2. Dr. Toyotaka Ishibashi is studying the relationship at the cell level among the MeCP2 protein, DNA and chromatin (a complex of DNA and protein that regulates the binding of the MeCP2 protein to DNA). Despite some research carried out in recent years, details of the interaction of MeCP2 with chromatin remain largely unknown. Toyotaka is investigating how MeCP2 works in normal cells, which is critical for later study of how gene mutations interfere with the normal function of the protein to cause the symptoms of Rett syndrome. Ultimately, Toyotaka hopes to clarify the role of the MeCP2’s nucleosome — the most elementary structure involved in regulating the protein’s activity — to provide potential cellular targets for drug targeting and new prospects for the development of clinical therapies.