For higher-order functions of the mammalian brain such as the regulation of motor behavior, consciousness, emotion, learning, and memory, neurons have to establish complicated and elaborate networks. In addition, the functions of neurons are critically supported by glial cells (astrocytes and oligodendrocytes). All of these neural cell types (i.e., neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes) are generated from common neural stem cells (NSCs), which also have self-renewal activity. Accumulating evidence suggests that the behavior of NSCs is influenced spatiotemporally by both cell-extrinsic factors, including cytokine signaling, and cell-intrinsic epigenetic changes, which together regulate the proliferation and fate decisions of NSCs to produce glial cells or neurons, including different neuronal subtypes, in a spatiotemporal manner. In the first half of this chapter, we summarize recent advances in elucidating the role of epigenetic control in the differentiation of NSCs. In postmitotic neurons, as well as NSCs, several orchestrated epigenetic mechanisms underlie neuronal functioning critical for memory formation. Recent studies have revealed the presence and physiological significance of changes of the epigenetic modifications within a neuron of an already defined cell fate. A dynamic change of epigenetic status induced by neuronal activity can alter synaptic plasticity, which constitutes part of the mechanisms of learning and memory. In the latter half of the chapter, we describe the role of epigenetic plasticity in non-dividing neurons. We also discuss the robust identity of the neuronal cell fate, as exemplified by the extremely poor ability of neurons to be reprogrammed to pluripotent stem cells.
|Title of host publication||Epigenetics in Psychiatry|
|Number of pages||28|
|Publication status||Published - Jun 20 2014|
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