• Carsten Carlberg
  • Ferdinand Molnár


Epigenetic regulation is critical for the normal development and functioning of our brain. Dynamic DNA and histone methylation as well as their demethylation at specific gene loci play a fundamental role in learning, memory formation and behavioral plasticity. The epigenome of neurons allows a molecular explanation for long-term memories. MECP2 is the best-characterized methyl-binding transcription factor and is involved both in gene activation and repression in the central nervous system. MECP2 is highly expressed in the brain and an important component of neuronal chromatin. Mutations in the MECP2 gene are the basis of the autism spectrum disorder Rett syndrome. In addition, also histone acetylation levels in neurons contribute to the cell’s proper function. Accordingly, HDAC inhibitors offer an effective therapy of some neurodegenerative diseases.


Neuronal development DNA methylation mCH methylation MECP2 Rett syndrome Histone acetylation HDAC inhibitors REST Neurodegenerative diseases 

Further Reading

  1. Campbell RR, Wood MA (2019) How the epigenome integrates information and reshapes the synapse. Nat Rev Neurosci 20:133–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Gräff J, Tsai LH (2013) Histone acetylation: molecular mnemonics on the chromatin. Nat Rev Neurosci 14:97–111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Hwang JY, Aromolaran KA, Zukin RS (2017) The emerging field of epigenetics in neurodegeneration and neuroprotection. Nat Rev Neurosci 18:347–361CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Kazantsev AG, Thompson LM (2008) Therapeutic application of histone deacetylase inhibitors for central nervous system disorders. Nat Rev Drug Discov 7:854–868CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Lister R, Mukamel EA, Nery JR, Urich M, Puddifoot CA, Johnson ND, Lucero J, Huang Y, Dwork AJ, Schultz MD et al (2013) Global epigenomic reconfiguration during mammalian brain development. Science 341:1237905CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carsten Carlberg
    • 1
  • Ferdinand Molnár
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of BiomedicineUniversity of Eastern FinlandKuopioFinland
  2. 2.Department of BiologyNazarbayev UniversityNur-SultanKazakhstan

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