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J Genet Genomics. 2013 Jul 20;40(7):339-46. doi: 10.1016/j.jgg.2013.04.007. Epub 2013 May 9.

The epigenetic switches for neural development and psychiatric disorders.

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  • 1Department of Neonatology, Children's Hospital of Fudan University, Shanghai 201102, China.


The most remarkable feature of the nervous system is that the development and functions of the brain are largely reshaped by postnatal experiences, in joint with genetic landscapes. The nature vs. nurture argument reminds us that both genetic and epigenetic information is indispensable for the normal function of the brain. The epigenetic regulatory mechanisms in the central nervous system have been revealed over last a decade. Moreover, the mutations of epigenetic modulator genes have been shown to be implicated in neuropsychiatric disorders, such as autism spectrum disorders. The epigenetic study has initiated in the neuroscience field for a relative short period of time. In this review, we will summarize recent discoveries about epigenetic regulation on neural development, synaptic plasticity, learning and memory, as well as neuropsychiatric disorders. Although the comprehensive view of how epigenetic regulation contributes to the function of the brain is still not completed, the notion that brain, the most complicated organ of organisms, is profoundly shaped by epigenetic switches is widely accepted.

Copyright © 2013. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


AML; Adult neurogenesis; Autism; Avp; BDNF; CBP; CNS; CREB; CREB-binding protein; CREST; DG; DNA methylation; DNA methyltransferase 1; DNA methyltransferase 3a; Depression; Dnmt1; Dnmt3a; GADD45b; GluR2; HDAC; HDAC2; JAK; Janus kinase; Learning and memory; MND; MeCP2; Neural plasticity; PP1; RE1-silencing transcription factor; REST; SMA; STAT; TET1; acute myeloid leukemia; arginine vasopressin; brain-derived neurotrophic factor; cAMP response element-binding protein; calcium-responsive transactivator; central nervous system; dentate gyrus; glutamate receptor 2; growth arrest and DNA-damage-inducible, beta; histone deacetylase; histone deacetylase 2; mEPSC; methyl CpG binding protein 2; miR-132; miniature excitatory postsynaptic current; mircroRNA-132; motor neuron diseases; protein phosphatase 1; signal transducer and activator of transcription; spinal muscular atrophy; ten-eleven translocation 1

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