Carouge D, Host L, Aunis D, Zwiller J, Anglard P
Rett syndrome and its "early-onset seizure" variant are severe neurodevelopmental disorders associated with mutations within the MECP2 and the CDKL5 genes. Antidepressants and drugs of abuse induce the expression of the epigenetic factor MeCP2, thereby influencing chromatin remodeling. We show that increased MeCP2 levels resulted in the repression of Cdkl5 in rat brain structures in response to cocaine, as well as in cells exposed to serotonin, or overexpressing MeCP2. In contrast, Cdkl5 was induced by siRNA-mediated knockdown of Mecp2 and by DNA-methyltransferase inhibitors, demonstrating its regulation by MeCP2 and by DNA methylation. Cdkl5 gene methylation and its methylation-dependent binding to MeCP2 were increased in the striatum of cocaine-treated rats. Our data demonstrate that Cdkl5 is a MeCP2-repressed target gene providing a link between genes the mutation of which generates overlapping symptoms. They highlight DNA methylation changes as a potential mechanism participating in the long-term plasticity triggered by pharmacological agents.