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Trends Neurosci. 2015 Feb;38(2):96-107. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2014.12.003. Epub 2014 Dec 24.

Epigenetic mechanisms underlying learning and the inheritance of learned behaviors.

Dias BG#1,2,3, Maddox S#1,2, Klengel T1,2, Ressler KJ1,2,3.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA.
2
Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Atlanta, GA.
3
Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Bethesda, MD.
#
Contributed equally

Abstract

Gene expression and regulation is an important sculptor of the behavior of organisms. Epigenetic mechanisms regulate gene expression not by altering the genetic alphabet but rather by the addition of chemical modifications to proteins associated with the alphabet or of methyl marks to the alphabet itself. Being dynamic, epigenetic mechanisms of gene regulation serve as an important bridge between environmental stimuli and genotype. In this review, we outline epigenetic mechanisms by which gene expression is regulated in animals and humans. Using fear learning as a framework, we then delineate how such mechanisms underlie learning and stress responsiveness. Finally, we discuss how epigenetic mechanisms might inform us about the transgenerational inheritance of behavioral traits that are being increasingly reported.

PMID:
25544352
PMCID:
PMC4323865
DOI:
10.1016/j.tins.2014.12.003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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