1. Neuroscience
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MeCP2 regulates Tet1-catalyzed demethylation, CTCF binding, and learning-dependent alternative splicing of the BDNF gene in Turtle

  1. Zhaoqing Zheng
  2. Ganesh Ambigapathy
  3. Joyce Keifer  Is a corresponding author
  1. University of South Dakota, United States
Research Article
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Cite this article as: eLife 2017;6:e25384 doi: 10.7554/eLife.25384
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MECP2 mutations underlying Rett syndrome cause widespread misregulation of gene expression. Functions for MeCP2 other than transcriptional are not well understood. In an ex vivo brain preparation from the pond turtle Trachemys scripta elegans, an intraexonic splicing event in the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene generates a truncated mRNA transcript in naïve brain that is suppressed upon classical conditioning. MeCP2 and its partners, splicing factor Y-box binding protein 1 (YB-1) and methylcytosine dioxygenase 1 (Tet1), bind to BDNF chromatin in naïve but dissociate during conditioning; the dissociation correlating with decreased DNA methylation. Surprisingly, conditioning results in new occupancy of BDNF chromatin by DNA insulator protein CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF), which is associated with suppression of splicing in conditioning. Knockdown of MeCP2 shows it is instrumental for splicing and inhibits Tet1 and CTCF binding thereby negatively impacting DNA methylation and conditioning-dependent splicing regulation. Thus, mutations in MECP2 can have secondary effects on DNA methylation and alternative splicing.

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Author details

  1. Zhaoqing Zheng

    Neuroscience Group, Basic Biomedical Sciences, University of South Dakota, Vermillion, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Ganesh Ambigapathy

    Neuroscience Group, Basic Biomedical Sciences, University of South Dakota, Vermillion, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-4491-8513
  3. Joyce Keifer

    Neuroscience Group, Basic Biomedical Sciences, University of South Dakota, Vermillion, United States
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-5900-0414


National Institutes of Health (NS051187)

  • Joyce Keifer

Internal departmental grant funds

  • Joyce Keifer

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.


Animal experimentation: All experiments involving the use of animals were performed in accordance with the guidelines of the National Institutes of Health and were approved by the USD Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (protocol number, 08-06-14-17C).

Reviewing Editor

  1. Anne E West, Duke University School of Medicine, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: January 23, 2017
  2. Accepted: June 7, 2017
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: June 8, 2017 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: June 22, 2017 (version 2)


© 2017, Zheng et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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