Did your behavior at the lab holiday party elicit whispered comments, furtive glances, and snide snickers from co-workers the next day? Although we don’t know exactly what possessed you to dance on the boss’s coffee table wearing your DNA necktie as a headband, researchers have shown that some physiological and pathological behaviors result from epigenetic changes in chromatin. Luca Crepaldi and Antonella Riccio of University College London (U. K.) review the evidence in the January 2009 issue of Epigenetics.
Chromatin in cells of the central nervous system is highly dynamic, which allows for the functional plasticity of differentiated neurons. External stimuli induce chromatin modifications that culminate in behavioral responses. Histone acetylation, in particular, plays a major role in the regulation of behaviors such as learning, memory, depression, and drug addiction. Chromatin-modifying enzymes are therefore promising targets for the pharmacological treatment of cognitive and neurodegenerative disorders, depression, and addictions. Get all the details at Epigenetics, January 2009