Epigenetic mechanisms-including DNA methylation, histone post-translational modifications and changes in nucleosome positioning-regulate gene expression, cellular differentiation and development in almost all tissues, including the brain. In adulthood, changes in the epigenome are crucial for higher cognitive functions such as learning and memory. Striking new evidence implicates the dysregulation of epigenetic mechanisms in neurodegenerative disorders and diseases. Although these disorders differ in their underlying causes and pathophysiologies, many involve the dysregulation of restrictive element 1-silencing transcription factor (REST), which acts via epigenetic mechanisms to regulate gene expression. Although not somatically heritable, epigenetic modifications in neurons are dynamic and reversible, which makes them good targets for therapeutic intervention.
ASJC Scopus subject areas