Novel exon 1 mutations in MECP2 implicate isoform MeCP2-e1 in classical rett syndrome

Carol J. Saunders, Berge E. Minassian, Eva W.C. Chow, Weiwei Zhao, John B. Vincent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Rett syndrome (RTT) is a neurodevelopmental disorder caused by mutations in the X-linked MECP2 gene. Recently, a new MeCP2 isoform was described, MeCP2-e1, which skips exon 2 and has an alternative N-terminus, translated from exon 1, whereas MeCP2-e2 is translated from a start codon in exon 2. Since the incorporation of exon 1 into standard sequencing protocols for RTT, few exon 1 mutations have been described and are thus assumed to be only rare causes of RTT. Also, studies have suggested that the frameshift mutations identified in exon 1 affect both isoforms. Our aim in this study was to assess the frequency of mutations in exon 1, their relationship to phenotype, and the implications on the etiological role for the isoform MeCP2-e1 in RTT, versus the previously described isoform, MeCP2-e2. We sequenced MECP2 in 51 females with various clinical presentations, including developmental delay, autism, atypical and classical RTT, referred to our laboratories for testing. In patients with identified mutations, X-chromosome inactivation was analyzed. We identified four patients with exon 1 mutations; three were novel (c.1A > T; c.1A > G; c.5C > T), two of which affected the start codon, one a missense change, and one patient had a previously reported splice site mutation, c.62 + 1delGT. The four patients fit criteria for classical RTT, and thus these findings add support to previous reports that exon 1 mutations may be associated with a severe phenotype. Also, these findings add significant weight to the mounting evidence suggesting that the MeCP2-e1 isoform is the etiologically relevant form of the protein.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1019-1023
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Genetics, Part A
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2009


  • Isoform MeCP2-e1
  • MECP2
  • Novel exon 1 mutations
  • Rett syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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