Effects of Mecp2 loss of function in embryonic cortical neurons: a bioinformatics strategy to sort out non-neuronal cells variability from transcriptome profiling

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Vacca, Marcella; Tripathi, Kumar Parijat; Speranza, Luisa; Cigliano, Riccardo Aiese; Scalabrì, Francesco; Marracino, Federico; Madonna, Michele; Sanseverino, Walter; Perrone-Capano, Carla; Guarracino, Mario Rosario

BMC Bioinformatics,17,2,189,2016,BioMed Central

Background

Mecp2 null mice model Rett syndrome (RTT) a human neurological disorder affecting females after apparent normal pre- and peri-natal developmental periods. Neuroanatomical studies in cerebral cortex of RTT mouse models revealed delayed maturation of neuronal morphology and autonomous as well as non-cell autonomous reduction in dendritic complexity of postnatal cortical neurons. However, both morphometric parameters and high-resolution expression profile of cortical neurons at embryonic developmental stage have not yet been studied. Here we address these topics by using embryonic neuronal primary cultures from Mecp2 loss of function mouse model.

Results

We show that embryonic primary cortical neurons of Mecp2 null mice display reduced neurite complexity possibly reflecting transcriptional changes. We used RNA-sequencing coupled with a bioinformatics comparative approach to identify and remove the contribution of variable and hard to quantify non-neuronal brain cells present in our in vitro cell cultures.

Conclusions

Our results support the need to investigate both Mecp2 morphological as well as molecular effect in neurons since prenatal developmental stage, long time before onset of Rett symptoms.

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