We all have bad days every so often and if you’re like us, you chalk up that depression or anxiety to something like, a looming project deadline or insufficient sleep and caffeine. A new study though, shows that there might be an unlikely culprit behind those negative emotions, your histone deacetylase 6 (HDAC6) levels.
Acetylation is a well-known post-translation modification of histones, but the enzymes that put on and take off acetyl groups of lysine residues—acetyltransferases and deacetylases respectively—are more than one-trick ponies that only modify histones. They can also act on other proteins, although to date the roles of non-histone acetylations aren’t well understood.
A team led by Yoshiharu Kawaguchi at the Aichi Human Service Center tackled one deaceytlase in particular, HDAC6. HDAC6 acts on a number of cytoplasmic proteins, such as α-tubulin and Hsp90, and it’s particularly abundant in the brain so the scientists had a hunch that HDAC6 is important in the central nervous system. In mice, Kawaguchi and colleagues found:
- HDAC6 was highly expressed in mature serotonergic neurons, which are the neurons that oversee emotional behaviors.
- HDAC6-knockout mice showed emotional aberrations, such as hyperactivity and less anxiety.
- When an Hdac6 inhibitor was given to wild-type mice, they showed anti-depressive behaviors.
In all, the investigators say disturbance of HHDAC6’s functions causes mice to be less anxious and hyperactive, leading them to suggest that HDAC6 could be a new target for anti-depression drugs.
We bet advertising campaigns will be on the way soon to “Ask your doctor if anti-HDAC6 inhibitors are right for you!”
Put yourself in a good mood by reading the whole paper at PLoS One, February 2012.