The enhancement of activity rescues the establishment of Mecp2 null neuronal phenotypes

Linda Scaramuzza, Giuseppina De Rocco, Genni Desiato, Clementina Cobolli Gigli, Martina Chiacchiaretta, Filippo Mirabella, Davide Pozzi, Marco De Simone, Paola Conforti, Massimiliano Pagani, Fabio Benfenati, Fabrizia Cesca, Francesco Bedogni, Nicoletta Landsberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


MECP2 mutations cause Rett syndrome (RTT), a severe and progressive neurodevelopmental disorder mainly affecting females. Although RTT patients exhibit delayed onset of symptoms, several evidences demonstrate that MeCP2 deficiency alters early development of the brain. Indeed, during early maturation, Mecp2 null cortical neurons display widespread transcriptional changes, reduced activity, and defective morphology. It has been proposed that during brain development these elements are linked in a feed-forward cycle where neuronal activity drives transcriptional and morphological changes that further increase network maturity. We hypothesized that the enhancement of neuronal activity during early maturation might prevent the onset of RTT-typical molecular and cellular phenotypes. Accordingly, we show that the enhancement of excitability, obtained by adding to neuronal cultures Ampakine CX546, rescues transcription of several genes, neuronal morphology, and responsiveness to stimuli. Greater effects are achieved in response to earlier treatments. In vivo, short and early administration of CX546 to Mecp2 null mice prolongs lifespan, delays the disease progression, and rescues motor abilities and spatial memory, thus confirming the value for RTT of an early restoration of neuronal activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e12433
JournalEMBO Molecular Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Ampakine
  • Mecp2
  • neuronal activity
  • neuronal maturation
  • Rett syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine


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