Animal Models of Epigenetic Regulation in Neuropsychiatric Disorders

  • Chas Bountra
  • Udo Oppermann
  • Tom D. Heightman
Part of the Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences book series (CTBN, volume 7)


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.


Chromatin Epigenetics Histone modifying enzymes Inhibitors 





Adeno-associated virus


Brain-derived neurotrophic factor


Bromodomain and extra C-terminal domain protein


Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase


Cyclin-dependent kinase 5


Chromatin immunoprecipitation


Coenzyme A


Short stretches of DNA in which the frequency of C and G base pairs are higher than other regions


cAMP response element binding protein


Corticotrophin releasing hormone


Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma


DNA methyltransferase


Flavin adenine dinucleotide


Frontopolar cortex


Forster resonance energy transfer


Gamma-aminobutyric acid


Glucocorticoid receptor


Histone H3 dimethylated at lysine-9 ε-nitrogen


Histone acetyl transferase


Histone deacetylase


Herpes simplex virus


IκB transcription factor


IκB kinase


Jumonji (demethylase) domain


Lysine demethylase




Licking and grooming


Lox P-stop-Lox P cassette


Long-term potentiation


Monoamine oxidase inhibitor


Methyl-CpG-binding domain protein


Maligant brain tumour domain


Methyl CpG binding protein 2




Nucleus accumbens


Nuclear factor-kappaB


Nerve growth factor inducible protein A


Plant homeodomain


Arginine methyltransferase


Post-transcriptional gene silencing


Suberoyl-aniline hydroxamic acid


Sirtuin (NAD+-dependent histone deacetylase)


Small ubiquitin-like modifier


Trichostatin A


Transcription start site





The Structural Genomics Consortium (a registered charity; number 1097737) receives funds from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, Genome Canada through the Ontario Genomics Institute, GlaxoSmithKline, Karolinska Institutet, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, the Ontario Innovation Trust, the Ontario Ministry for Research and Innovation, Merck and Co., Inc., the Novartis Research Foundation, the Swedish Agency for Innovation Systems, the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research and the Wellcome Trust. The work was supported by the NIHR Biomedical Research Unit Oxford. We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Ms J. Zapisek and Ms. M. Kalinowska in the preparation of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chas Bountra
    • 1
  • Udo Oppermann
    • 1
    • 2
  • Tom D. Heightman
    • 1
  1. 1.Structural Genomics ConsortiumUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.Botnar Research Centre, Oxford Biomedical Research UnitUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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