Structural basis of MeCP2 interaction with NCoR/SMRT co-repressor complex
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Rett syndrome (RTT) is an X-linked neurological disorder primarily caused by mutations in the MECP2 gene. The majority of RTT mutations disrupt the interaction of MeCP2 with DNA or TBL1X/TBL1XR1, which forms the scaffold of NCoR/SMRT co-repressor complex. Patients with RTT show no signs of neuronal death, although they have abnormal neuronal morphology, indicating that it is a neurodevelopmental rather than a neurodegenerative disease. It has been shown that reactivation of silenced MeCP2 in mice rescues the RTT phenotype, which implies that the disease is treatable. The RTT mutations in MeCP2 cluster to two regions - the methyl-CpG-binding domain (MBD) and NCoR/SMRT Interaction Domain (NID). While the interaction between MBD and DNA has been biochemically and structurally characterised, there are no structural data about the interaction between MeCP2 NID and TBL1XR1. The aim of this work was to understand how mutations in the NID cause RTT by characterising the interaction between MeCP2 and TBL1XR1. I have solved the structure of MeCP2 NID bound to TBL1XR1 WD40 domain. I show that a small region of the MeCP2 NID makes extensive contacts with TBL1XR1, and that these contacts are mediated primarily by MeCP2 residues known to be mutated in RTT. I also measured the affinities between TBL1XR1 and MeCP2-derived peptides using fluorescence anisotropy and surface plasmon resonance assays. I determined the affinity between MeCP2 NID peptide and TBL1XR1 to be around 10- 20 μM, and show that mutations in either MeCP2 or TBL1XR1 can abolish this interaction. Taken together, these data strongly suggest that the abolition of the interaction between MeCP2 NID and TBL1XR1 WD40 domain is sufficient to cause RTT. This knowledge can help with the rational design of small drug-like molecules that might be able to mediate the interaction between mutated MeCP2 and TBL1XR1, potentially helping to treat the disease.