Date: 12 Jan 2011

Animal Models of Epigenetic Regulation in Neuropsychiatric Disorders

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Epigenetics describes the phenomenon of heritable changes in gene regulation that are governed by non-Mendelian processes, primarily through biochemical modifications to chromatin structure that occur during cell development and differentiation. Numerous lines of evidence link abnormal levels of chromatin modifications (either to DNA, histones, or both) in patients with a wide variety of diseases including cancer, psychiatry, neurodegeneration, metabolic and inflammatory disorders. Drugs that target the proteins controlling chromatin modifications can modulate the expression of clusters of genes, potentially offering higher therapeutic efficacy than classical agents with single target pharmacologies that are susceptible to biochemical pathway degeneracy. Here, we summarize recent research linking epigenetic dysregulation with diseases in neurosciences, the application of relevant animal models, and the potential for small molecule modulator development to facilitate target discovery, validation and translation into clinical treatments.