Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 356, Issue 3, pp 539–552 | Cite as

Histone methylation during neural development

Review

Abstract

Post-translational modification of histone proteins, such as the methylation of lysine and arginine residues, influences the higher order of chromatin and leads to gene activation or silencing. Histone methyltransferases or demethylases actively add or remove various methylation marks in a cell-type-specific and context-dependent way. They are therefore important players in regulating the transcriptional program of a cell. Some control of the various cellular programs is necessary during the differentiation of stem cells along a specific lineage, when differentiation to alternative lineages needs to be suppressed. One example is the development of neurons from neural stem cells during neurogenesis. Neurogenesis is a highly organized process that requires the proper coordination of survival, proliferation, differentiation and migration signals. This holds true for both embryonic and neural stem cells that give rise to the various cell types of the central nervous system. The control of embryonic and neural stem cell self-renewal and differentiation is achieved by both extrinsic and intrinsic signals that regulate gene expression precisely. Recent advances in neuroscience support the importance of epigenetic modifications, such as the methylation and acetylation of histones, as an important intrinsic mechanism for the regulation of central nervous system development. This review summarizes our current knowledge of histone methylation processes during neural development and provides insights into the function of histone methylation enzymes and their role during central nervous system development.

Key words

Epigenetics Histone lysine methyltransferase (KMT) Histone lysine demethylase (KDM) Neural development Chromatin state 

List of abbreviations

5hmC

5-Hydroxymethylcytosine

CNS

Central nervous system

COMPASS

Complex of proteins associated with Set1

DOT1L

Disruptor of telomeric silencing 1-like

ESC

Embryonic stem cells

EZH2

Enhancer of zeste homolog 2

H3

Histone 3

H3K4 (same scheme for other modifications)

Histone 3 lysine 4

H4R3me2a/s

Histone 4 arginine 3 asymmetric/symmetric dimethylation

HDAC

Histone deacetylase

K

Lysine

KDM

Histone lysine demethylase

KMT

Histone lysine methyltransferase

KO

Knockout

JARID

Jumonji/ARID domain

JHDM

JmjC domain-containing histone demethylase

JmjC

Jumonji C

me

Methylation

me1/2/3

Mono- /di- /trimethylation

MLL

Mixed-lineage leukemia

NSC

Neural stem cells

NTD

Neural tube defects

PRC1

Polycomb repressive complex 1

PRC2

Polycomb repressive complex 2

R

Arginine

RE

Neuron-restrictive silencer element

REST

RE1-silencing transcription factor

RNAPII

RNA polymerase II

SAH

S-adenosyl-homocysteine

SAM

S-adenosyl-L-methionine

SET

Su(var)3-9, Enhancer of Zeste, Trithorax

TSS

Transcription start site

Trx

Trithorax

Trr

Trithorax-related

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Molecular Embryology, Institute of Anatomy and Cell BiologyAlbert-Ludwigs-University FreiburgFreiburgGermany
  2. 2.Hermann Staudinger Graduate School (HSGS)Albert-Ludwigs-University FreiburgFreiburgGermany

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