Epigenetics and Memory
AbstractLong-term memory formation requires changes in gene expression. One mechanism for altering gene expression involves chemical modifications of DNA or its associatedhistone molecules. These “epigenetic” tags have long been studied by developmental biologists for their role in cell differentiation, but recent evidence suggests they alsocoordinate behavior in terminally differentiated neurons. Epigenetic chemicalmodifications include DNA methylation as well as histone methylation, acetylation, phosphorylation, ubiquitylation, and sumoylation. DNA methylation and histonemodifications—in particular acetylation, methylation, and phosphorylation—play a keyrole in regulating memory-related behavior. Moreover, neuroscientists investigatingepigenetics have identified potential targets for therapeutic intervention in diseases likeAlzheimer’s, especially with regard to histone deacetylases (HDACs).