Targeted epigenomic editing ameliorates adult anxiety and excessive drinking after adolescent alcohol exposure

Sci Adv. 2022 May 6;8(18):eabn2748. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abn2748. Epub 2022 May 4.


Adolescent binge drinking is a major risk factor for psychiatric disorders later in life including alcohol use disorder. Adolescent alcohol exposure induces epigenetic reprogramming at the enhancer region of the activity-regulated cytoskeleton-associated protein (Arc) immediate-early gene, known as synaptic activity response element (SARE), and decreases Arc expression in the amygdala of both rodents and humans. The causal role of amygdalar epigenomic regulation at Arc SARE in adult anxiety and drinking after adolescent alcohol exposure is unknown. Here, we show that dCas9-P300 increases histone acetylation at the Arc SARE and normalizes deficits in Arc expression, leading to attenuation of adult anxiety and excessive alcohol drinking in a rat model of adolescent alcohol exposure. Conversely, dCas9-KRAB increases repressive histone methylation at the Arc SARE, decreases Arc expression, and produces anxiety and alcohol drinking in control rats. These results demonstrate that epigenomic editing in the amygdala can ameliorate adult psychopathology after adolescent alcohol exposure.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alcoholism* / genetics
  • Animals
  • Anxiety / genetics
  • Epigenomics*
  • Ethanol / adverse effects
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Rats


  • Histones
  • Ethanol