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Wiley Interdiscip Rev Syst Biol Med. 2019 Sep;11(5):e1449. doi: 10.1002/wsbm.1449. Epub 2019 Apr 23.

Essential contributions of enhancer genomic regulatory elements to microglial cell identity and functions.

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CHU de Québec Research Center - Department of Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Université Laval, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.


Microglia are the specialized macrophages of the brain and play essential roles in ensuring its proper functioning. Accumulating evidence suggests that these cells coordinate the inflammatory response that accompanies various clinical brain conditions, including neurodegenerative diseases and psychiatric disorders. Therefore, investigating the functions of these cells and how these are regulated have become important areas of research in neuroscience over the past decade. In this regards, recent efforts to characterize the epigenomic mechanisms underlying microglial gene transcription have provided significant insights into the mechanisms that control the ontogeny and the cellular competences of microglia. In particular, these studies have established that a substantial proportion of the microglial repertoire of promoter-distal genomic regulatory elements, or enhancers, is relatively specific to these cells compared to other tissue-resident macrophages. Notably, this specificity is under the regulation of factors present in the brain that modulate activity of target axes of signaling pathways-transcription factors in microglia. Thus, the microglial enhancer repertoire is highly responsive to perturbations in the cerebral tissue microenvironment and this responsiveness has profound implications on the activity of these cells in brain diseases. This article is categorized under: Physiology > Mammalian Physiology in Health and Disease Models of Systems Properties and Processes > Mechanistic Models Biological Mechanisms > Cell Fates Developmental Biology > Lineages.


epigenomics; gene regulation; microglia


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