H2O MegaMaser emission may arise from thin gas discs surrounding the massive nuclei of galaxies such as NGC 4258, but the physical conditions responsible for the amplified emission are unclear. A detailed view of these regions is possible using the very high angular resolution afforded by space very long baseline interferometry (SVLBI). Here we report SVLBI experiments conducted using the orbiting RadioAstron Observatory that have resulted in detections of the H2O 22 GHz emission in NGC 4258, with Earth-space baselines of 1.3, 9.5 and 19.5 Earth diameters. Observations at the highest angular resolutions of 11 and 23 μas show distinct and regularly spaced regions within the rotating disc, at an orbital radius of about 0.126 pc. These observations at three subsequent epochs also indicate a time evolution of the emission features, with a sudden rise in amplitude followed by a slow decay. The formation of these emission regions, their regular spacing and their time-dependent behaviour appear consistent with the occurrence of a periodic magneto-rotational instability in the disc. This type of shear-driven instability within the differentially rotating disc has been suggested to be the mechanism governing the radial momentum transfer and viscosity within a mass-accreting disc. The connection of the H2O MegaMaser activity with the magneto-rotational instability activity would make it an indicator of the mass-accretion rate in the nuclear disc of the host galaxy.