Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
Emerging evidence suggests that myocyte enhancer factor 2 (MEF2) transcription factors act as effectors of neurogenesis in the brain, with MEF2C the predominant isoform in developing cerebrocortex. Here, we show that conditional knockout of Mef2c in nestin-expressing neural stem/progenitor cells (NSCs) impaired neuronal differentiation in vivo, resulting in aberrant compaction and smaller somal size. NSC proliferation and survival were not affected. Conditional null mice surviving to adulthood manifested more immature electrophysiological network properties and severe behavioral deficits reminiscent of Rett syndrome, an autism-related disorder. Our data support a crucial role for MEF2C in programming early neuronal differentiation and proper distribution within the layers of the neocortex.