Document Type



Brain and Mind Institute


The 5-HT1A autoreceptor mediates feedback inhibition of serotonin (5-HT) neurons, and is implicated in major depression. The human 5-HT1A gene (HTR1A) rs6295 risk allele prevents Deaf1 binding to HTR1A, resulting in increased 5-HT1A autoreceptor transcription. Since chronic stress alters HTR1A methylation and expression, we addressed whether recruitment of methyl-binding protein MeCP2 may alter Deaf1 regulation at the HTR1A locus. We show that MeCP2 enhances Deaf1 binding to its HTR1A site and co-immunoprecipitates with Deaf1 in cells and brain tissue. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays showed Deaf1-dependent recruitment of MeCP2 to the mouse HTR1A promoter, and MeCP2 modulated human and mouse HTR1A gene transcription in a Deaf1-dependent fashion, enhancing Deaf1-induced repression at the Deaf1 site. To address the role of MeCP2 in HTR1A regulation in vivo, mice with conditional knockout of MeCP2 in adult 5-HT neurons (MeCP2 cKO) were generated. These mice exhibited increased 5-HT1A autoreceptor levels and function, consistent with MeCP2 enhancement of Deaf1 repression in 5-HT neurons. Interestingly, female MeCP2-cKO mice displayed reduced anxiety, while males showed increased anxiety and reduced depression-like behaviors. These data uncover a novel role for MeCP2 in 5-HT neurons to repress HTR1A expression and drive adult anxiety- and depression-like behaviors in a sex-specific manner.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Scientific Reports

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.