Regulation of Seizure-Induced MeCP2 Ser421 Phosphorylation in the Developing Brain

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Neonatal seizures disrupt normal synaptic maturation and often lead to later-life epilepsyand cognitive deficits. During early life, the brain exhibits heightened synaptic plasticity, in part due to a developmental overabundance of CaV1.2 L-type voltage gated calcium (Ca2+) channels (LT-VGCCs) and Ca2+-permeable AMPARs (CP-AMPARs) lacking GluA2 subunits. We hypothesized that early-life seizures overactivate these channels, in turn dysregulating Ca2+-dependent signaling pathways including that of methyl CPG binding protein 2 (MeCP2), a transcription factor implicated in the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) Rett Syndrome. Here, we show that in vivo hypoxia-induced seizures (HS) in postnatal day (P)10 rats acutely induced phosphorylation of the neuronal-specific target of activity-dependent MeCP2 phosphorylation, S421, as well as its upstream activator CaMKII T286. We next identified mechanisms by which activity-dependent Ca2+ influx induced MeCP2 phosphorylation using in vitro cortical and hippocampal neuronal cultures at embryonic day (E)18 + 10 days in vitro (DIV). In contrast to the prevalent role of NMDARs in the adult brain, we found that both CP-AMPARs and LT-VGCCs mediated MeCP2 S421 and CaMKII T286 phosphorylation induced by kainic acid (KA) or high potassium chloride (KCl) stimulation. Furthermore, in vivo post-seizure treatment with the broad-spectrum AMPAR antagonistNBQX, the CP-AMPAR blocker IEM-1460, or the LT-VGCC antagonist nimodipine blocked seizure-induced MeCP2 phosphorylation. Collectively, these results demonstrate that early-life seizures dysregulate critical activity-dependent developmental signaling pathways, in part via CP-AMPAR and LT-VGCC activation, providing novel age-specific therapeutic targets for convergent pathways underlying epilepsy and ASDs.

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Neurobiology of Disease



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This article was published in Neurobiology of Disease, Volume 116, Pages 120-130..

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