Interpretive Handbook

Test 89285 :
MECP2 Gene, Known Mutation

Clinical Information Discusses physiology, pathophysiology, and general clinical aspects, as they relate to a laboratory test

Methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 (MeCP2) is a transcriptional repressor protein encoded by the MECP2 gene located on the X chromosome. Genetic mutations in MECP2 alter the expression of targeted genes and can be associated with variable phenotypes in females including classic Rett syndrome, variant or atypical Rett syndrome, mild mental retardation, and asymptomatic carriers. Males with MECP2 mutations can present with variable phenotypes as well. The variability in males can, in part, be attributed to the type of MECP2 mutation present; point mutations are typically associated with severe neonatal encephalopathy and gene duplications are associated with MECP2 duplication syndrome. Full MECP2 gene analysis via sequencing and large duplication/deletion studies has been useful in identifying germline mutations in individuals with these clinical presentations.


Rett Syndrome

Rett syndrome is an X-linked, panethnic condition with an incidence of approximately 1/8,500 to 1/15,000 females. Disease course typically begins after 6 to 18 months of apparently normal development with rapid regression in language and motor skills. A hallmark feature of this condition is repetitive, stereotyped hand movements, sometimes described as hand-wringing. Clinical criteria have been established for diagnosis of classic and atypical or variant Rett syndrome. Greater than 88% of females with a clinical diagnosis of classic Rett syndrome demonstrate a mutation by this test. The detection rate is approximately 43% for females with a clinical diagnosis of atypical or variant Rett syndrome. For individuals in which there is clinical suspicion for Rett syndrome but clinical criteria are not met, the detection rate is lower given the phenotypic overlap with other conditions (eg, Angelman syndrome).


Nonrandom X chromosome inactivation, resulting in phenotypic variability within families, has been reported in females with MECP2 mutations. Although 99.5% of mutations associated with Rett syndrome are de novo, asymptomatic or very mildly affected carrier mothers of classically affected daughters have been reported. Genetic counseling should be provided with this, and the possibility of germline or somatic mosaicism, in mind.


MECP2 Duplication Syndrome

Although MECP2 mutations are reported in males, these males typically do not present with classic Rett syndrome unless an abnormal karyotype (ie, 47,XXY) or somatic mosaicism is also present. More commonly, MECP2 mutations have been reported in karyotypically normal males presenting with neonatal encephalopathy and mental retardation syndromes. MECP2 duplication syndrome is an increasingly reported severe mental retardation syndrome characterized by infantile hypotonia, absence of speech, and progressive spasticity. Seizures and recurrent respiratory infections are commonly reported as well. These MECP2 gene duplications vary in size from 0.3 Mb to 2.3 Mb. Although chromosome analysis can identify some larger duplications, other methods such as multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) can identify essentially all MECP2 gene duplications. Males with non-gene duplication type mutations can present with other mental retardation syndromes (ie, Angelman-like syndrome) or neonatal encephalopathy and early death.


To date, all males found to have an MECP2 duplication are clinically affected and have inherited the duplication from their asymptomatic mothers. Therefore, mothers of sons with MECP2 duplication syndrome are thought to be obligate carriers whose male offspring have a 50% risk of being affected.

Useful For Suggests clinical disorders or settings where the test may be helpful

Diagnosis of Rett syndrome or other MECP2-related disorder for at-risk individuals with a family history of an identified MECP2 mutation


Carrier screening for females who are at risk of having an MECP2 mutation that was previously identified in a family member

Interpretation Provides information to assist in interpretation of the test results

An interpretive report will be provided.

Cautions Discusses conditions that may cause diagnostic confusion, including improper specimen collection and handling, inappropriate test selection, and interfering substances

The identification of a disease-causing mutation in an affected family member is necessary before predictive testing for other family members can be offered. If a familial mutation has not been previously identified, order ME2MS / MECP2 Gene, Full Gene Analysis.


Analysis is performed for the familial mutation(s) provided only. This assay does not rule out the presence of other mutations within this gene or within other genes that may be associated with clinical features of MECP2-related disorders.


Test results should be interpreted in the context of clinical findings, family history, and other laboratory data. Any error in the diagnosis or in the pedigree provided to us, including false-paternity, could lead to erroneous interpretation of results.


A previous bone marrow transplant from an allogenic donor will interfere with testing. Call Mayo Medical Laboratories for instructions for testing patients who have received a bone marrow transplant.


Rare polymorphisms exist that could lead to false-negative or false-positive results. If results obtained do not match the clinical findings, additional testing should be considered.


In addition to disease-related probes, the MLPA technique utilizes probes localized to other chromosomal regions as internal controls. In certain circumstances, these control probes may detect other diseases or conditions for which this test was not specifically intended. Results of the control probes are not normally reported. However, in cases where clinically relevant information is identified, the ordering physician will be informed of the result and provided with recommendations for any appropriate follow-up testing.

Reference Values Describes reference intervals and additional information for interpretation of test results. May include intervals based on age and sex when appropriate. Intervals are Mayo-derived, unless otherwise designated. If an interpretive report is provided, the reference value field will state this.

An interpretive report will be provided.

Clinical References Provides recommendations for further in-depth reading of a clinical nature

1. Moretti P, Zoghbi HY: MeCP2 dysfunction in Rett syndrome and related disorders. Curr Opin Genet Dev 2006;6(3):276-281.

2. Shahbazian MD, Zoghbi HY: Molecular genetics of Rett syndrome and clinical spectrum of MECP2 mutations. Curr Opin Genet Dev 2001;14:171-176.

3. Van Esch H, Bauters M, Ignatius J, et al: Duplication of the MECP2 region is a frequent cause of severe mental retardation and progressive neurological symptoms in males. Am J Hum Genet 2005;77:442-453.

4. Hagberg B, Hanefeld F, Percy A, Skjedal O: An update on clinically applicable diagnostic criteria in Rett syndrome. European Journal of Paediatric Neurology 2002:6:293-297.

5. Laurvick CL, de Klerk N, Bower C, et al: Rett syndrome in Australia: A review of the epidemiology. The Journal of Pediatrics 2006:148:347-352.