Perineuronal nets (PNNs), a specialized form of extracellular matrix, are abnormal in the human brain of Rett syndrome (RTT). We previously reported that PNNs function to restrict synaptic plasticity in hippocampal area CA2, which is unusually resistant to long-term potentiation (LTP) and has been linked to social learning in mice. Here we reported that PNNs appear elevated in area CA2 of a human RTT hippocampus and that PNNs develop precociously and remain elevated in area CA2 of a mouse model of RTT (Mecp2-null). Further, we provided evidence that LTP could be induced at CA2 synapses prior to PNN maturation (postnatal day 8-11) in wildtype mice and that this window of plasticity was prematurely restricted at CA2 synapses in Mecp2-null mice. Degrading PNNs in Mecp2-null hippocampus was sufficient to rescue the premature disruption of CA2 plasticity. We identified several molecular targets that were altered in the developing Mecp2-null hippocampus that may explain aberrant PNNs and CA2 plasticity, and we discovered that CA2 PNNs are negatively regulated by neuronal activity. Collectively, our findings demonstrated that CA2 PNN development is regulated by Mecp2 and identified a novel window of hippocampal plasticity that is disrupted in a mouse model of RTT.
Kelly E. Carstens, Daniel J. Lustberg, Emma Shaughnessy, Katharine E. McCann, Georgia M. Alexander, Serena M. Dudek