Regulation of chromatin structure in memory formation

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2009 Jun;19(3):336-42. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2009.05.011. Epub 2009 Jun 17.


This brief review focuses on the role of epigenetic mechanisms in plasticity and memory formation, and their identification as targets of activity-dependent regulation in neurons. Epigenetic modifications of chromatin, namely post-translational modifications of nuclear proteins and covalent modification of DNA, result in potent regulation of gene readout. Recent data have demonstrated that epigenetic mechanisms play a significant role in regulating synaptic plasticity and memory. In this review, we focus on this theme, describing some basic background concerning epigenetic molecular mechanisms, and describing recent results concerning plasticity and memory formation. As an understanding of these novel mechanisms of transcriptional regulation promises to invigorate many areas of investigation, we end by speculating upon some of the open questions ripe for discovery.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatin / chemistry
  • Chromatin / metabolism*
  • DNA / chemistry
  • DNA / metabolism*
  • DNA Methylation
  • Histones / chemistry
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Methylation
  • Models, Neurological
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation


  • Chromatin
  • Histones
  • DNA