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Epigenetic Basis of Neuronal and Synaptic Plasticity

[ Vol. 17 , Issue. 7 ]


Nina N. Karpova, Amanda J. Sales and Samia R. Joca   Pages 771 - 793 ( 23 )


Neuronal network and plasticity change as a function of experience. Altered neural connectivity leads to distinct transcriptional programs of neuronal plasticity-related genes. The environmental challenges throughout life may promote long-lasting reprogramming of gene expression and the development of brain disorders. The modifications in neuronal epigenome mediate gene-environmental interactions and are required for activity-dependent regulation of neuronal differentiation, maturation and plasticity. Here, we highlight the latest advances in understanding the role of the main players of epigenetic machinery (DNA methylation and demethylation, histone modifications, chromatin-remodeling enzymes, transposons, and non-coding RNAs) in activity-dependent and long- term neural and synaptic plasticity. The review focuses on both the transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression levels, including the processes of promoter activation, alternative splicing, regulation of stability of gene transcripts by natural antisense RNAs, and alternative polyadenylation. Further, we discuss the epigenetic aspects of impaired neuronal plasticity and the pathogenesis of neurodevelopmental (Rett syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome, genomic imprinting disorders, schizophrenia, and others), stressrelated (mood disorders) and neurodegenerative Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disorders. The review also highlights the pharmacological compounds that modulate epigenetic programming of gene expression, the potential treatment strategies of discussed brain disorders, and the questions that should be addressed during the development of effective and safe approaches for the treatment of brain disorders.


Dendritic spine, Activity-dependent transcription, Chromatin remodeling, Alternative splicing, 3’UTR, Genomic imprinting, Depression.


Department of Physics and Chemistry, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Sao Paulo, Av. do Cafe sn, Monte Alegre, Ribeirao Preto-SP

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