HATs and HDACs in neurodegeneration: a tale of disconcerted acetylation homeostasis

Cell Death Differ. 2006 Apr;13(4):539-50. doi: 10.1038/sj.cdd.4401769.


Gradual disclosure of the molecular basis of selective neuronal apoptosis during neurodegenerative diseases reveals active participation of acetylating and deacetylating agents during the process. Several studies have now successfully manipulated neuronal vulnerability by influencing the dose and enzymatic activity of histone acetyltransferases (HATs) and histone deacetylases (HDACs), enzymes regulating acetylation homeostasis within the nucleus, thus focusing on the importance of balanced acetylation status in neuronal vitality. It is now increasingly becoming clear that acetylation balance is greatly impaired during neurodegenerative conditions. Herein, we attempt to illuminate molecular means by which such impairment is manifested and how the compromised acetylation homeostasis is intimately coupled to neurodegeneration. Finally, we discuss the therapeutic potential of reinstating the HAT-HDAC balance to ameliorate neurodegenerative diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Butyrates / pharmacology
  • Butyrates / therapeutic use
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Histone Acetyltransferases / metabolism*
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
  • Histone Deacetylases / metabolism*
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / drug therapy
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / enzymology*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / pathology
  • Neurons / enzymology
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Signal Transduction


  • Butyrates
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
  • Histone Acetyltransferases
  • Histone Deacetylases