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J Neurosci. 2010 Mar 10;30(10):3589-99. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3732-09.2010.

Histone methylation regulates memory formation.

Author information

  • 1Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute, Department of Neurobiology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama 35294, USA.

Abstract

It has been established that regulation of chromatin structure through post-translational modification of histone proteins, primarily histone H3 phosphorylation and acetylation, is an important early step in the induction of synaptic plasticity and formation of long-term memory. In this study, we investigated the contribution of another histone modification, histone methylation, to memory formation in the adult hippocampus. We found that trimethylation of histone H3 at lysine 4 (H3K4), an active mark for transcription, is upregulated in hippocampus 1 h following contextual fear conditioning. In addition, we found that dimethylation of histone H3 at lysine 9 (H3K9), a molecular mark associated with transcriptional silencing, is increased 1 h after fear conditioning and decreased 24 h after context exposure alone and contextual fear conditioning. Trimethylated H3K4 levels returned to baseline levels at 24 h. We also found that mice deficient in the H3K4-specific histone methyltransferase, Mll, displayed deficits in contextual fear conditioning relative to wild-type animals. This suggests that histone methylation is required for proper long-term consolidation of contextual fear memories. Interestingly, inhibition of histone deacetylases (HDACs) with sodium butyrate (NaB) resulted in increased H3K4 trimethylation and decreased H3K9 dimethylation in hippocampus following contextual fear conditioning. Correspondingly, we found that fear learning triggered increases in H3K4 trimethylation at specific gene promoter regions (Zif268 and bdnf) with altered DNA methylation and MeCP2 DNA binding. Zif268 DNA methylation levels returned to baseline at 24 h. Together, these data demonstrate that histone methylation is actively regulated in the hippocampus and facilitates long-term memory formation.

PMID:
20219993
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2859898
Free PMC Article

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