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Brain. 2019 Mar 1;142(3):787-807. doi: 10.1093/brain/awy354.

Inhibition of EHMT1/2 rescues synaptic and cognitive functions for Alzheimer's disease.

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, USA.
Department of Physiology, Key Laboratory for Neurodegenerative Disorders of the Ministry of Education, Beijing Institute for Brain Disorders, Capital Medical University, Beijing, P.R.China.
Department of Neurology, the First Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing Key Laboratory of Neurology, Chongqing, P.R.China.
VA Western New York Healthcare System, Buffalo, NY, USA.


Epigenetic dysregulation, which leads to the alteration of gene expression in the brain, is suggested as one of the key pathophysiological bases of ageing and neurodegeneration. Here we found that, in the late-stage familial Alzheimer's disease (FAD) mouse model, repressive histone H3 dimethylation at lysine 9 (H3K9me2) and euchromatic histone methyltransferases EHMT1 and EHMT2 were significantly elevated in the prefrontal cortex, a key cognitive region affected in Alzheimer's disease. Elevated levels of H3K9me2 were also detected in the prefrontal cortex region of post-mortem tissues from human patients with Alzheimer's disease. Concomitantly, H3K9me2 at glutamate receptors was increased in prefrontal cortex of aged FAD mice, which was linked to the diminished transcription, expression and function of AMPA and NMDA receptors. Treatment of FAD mice with specific EHMT1/2 inhibitors reversed histone hyper-methylation and led to the recovery of glutamate receptor expression and excitatory synaptic function in prefrontal cortex and hippocampus. Chromatin immunoprecipitation-sequencing (ChIP-seq) data indicated that FAD mice exhibited genome-wide increase of H3K9me2 enrichment at genes involved in neuronal signalling (including glutamate receptors), which was reversed by EHMT1/2 inhibition. Moreover, the impaired recognition memory, working memory, and spatial memory in aged FAD mice were rescued by the treatment with EHMT1/2 inhibitors. These results suggest that disrupted epigenetic regulation of glutamate receptor transcription underlies the synaptic and cognitive deficits in Alzheimer's disease, and targeting histone methylation enzymes may represent a novel therapeutic strategy for this prevalent neurodegenerative disorder.


Alzheimer’s disease; epigenetics; glutamate receptor; histone methylation; memory

[Available on 2020-03-01]

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