As a regressive neurodevelopmental disorder with a well-established genetic cause, Rett syndrome and its Mecp2 loss-of-function mouse model provide an excellent opportunity to define potentially translatable functional signatures of disease progression, as well as offer insight into the role of Mecp2 in functional circuit development. Thus, we applied widefield optical fluorescence imaging to assess mesoscale calcium functional connectivity (FC) in the Mecp2 cortex both at postnatal day (P)35 in development and during the disease-related decline. We found that FC between numerous cortical regions was disrupted in Mecp2 mutant males both in juvenile development and early adulthood. Female Mecp2 mice displayed an increase in homotopic contralateral FC in the motor cortex at P35 but not in adulthood, where instead more posterior parietal regions were implicated. An increase in the amplitude of connection strength, both with more positive correlations and more negative anticorrelations, was observed across the male cortex in numerous functional regions. Widespread rescue of MeCP2 protein in GABAergic neurons rescued none of these functional deficits, nor, surprisingly, the expected male lifespan. Altogether, the female results identify early signs of disease progression, while the results in males indicate MeCP2 protein is required for typical FC in the brain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7436-7453
Number of pages18
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 2023


  • Rett syndrome
  • calcium imaging
  • functional connectivity
  • neurodevelopmental disorder


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