Histone regulation in the CNS: basic principles of epigenetic plasticity

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2013 Jan;38(1):3-22. doi: 10.1038/npp.2012.124. Epub 2012 Jul 25.


Postmitotic neurons are subject to a vast array of environmental influences that require the nuclear integration of intracellular signaling events to promote a wide variety of neuroplastic states associated with synaptic function, circuit formation, and behavioral memory. Over the last decade, much attention has been paid to the roles of transcription and chromatin regulation in guiding fundamental aspects of neuronal function. A great deal of this work has centered on neurodevelopmental and adulthood plasticity, with increased focus in the areas of neuropharmacology and molecular psychiatry. Here, we attempt to provide a broad overview of chromatin regulation, as it relates to central nervous system (CNS) function, with specific emphasis on the modes of histone posttranslational modifications, chromatin remodeling, and histone variant exchange. Understanding the functions of chromatin in the context of the CNS will aid in the future development of pharmacological therapeutics aimed at alleviating devastating neurological disorders.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System / physiology*
  • Chromatin / physiology
  • Epigenomics / methods*
  • Epigenomics / trends
  • Histones / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Nervous System Diseases / genetics
  • Nervous System Diseases / metabolism
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*


  • Chromatin
  • Histones