Rett syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder with prominent motor and cognitive features, results from mutations in the gene for methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 (MeCP2). Here, to identify cortical circuit abnormalities that are specifically associated with MeCP2 deficiency, we used glutamate uncaging and laser scanning photostimulation to survey intracortical networks in mouse brain slices containing motor-frontal cortex. We used in utero transfection of short hairpin RNA constructs to knock down MeCP2 expression in a sparsely distributed subset of layer (L) 2/3 pyramidal neurons in wild-type mice, and compared input maps recorded from transfecteduntransfected pairs of neighboring neurons. The effect of MeCP2 deficiency on local excitatory input pathways was severe, with an average reduction in excitatory synaptic input from middle cortical layers (L3/5A) of >30% compared with MeCP2-replete controls. MeCP2 deficiency primarily affected the strength, rather than the topography, of excitatory intracortical pathways. Inhibitory synaptic inputs and intrinsic eletrophysiological properties were unaffected in the MeCP2-knockdown neurons. These studies indicate that MeCP2deficiency in individual postsynaptic cortical pyramidal neurons is sufficient to induce a pathological synaptic defect in excitatory intracortical circuits.
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