Chapter 2

Epigenetics of Memory: Evidence and Models

Bechara J. Saab and Isabelle M. Mansuy

Abstract

There is strong evidence that the epigenetic regulation of gene transcription, by way of covalent modifications of DNA and DNA-associated proteins, and through microRNAs, is an essential process underlying neuronal plasticity and memory. This chapter brings the non-specialist reader up to speed on important concepts within memory research, focusing on the role of the hippocampus, the molecular regulation of synaptic strength, and the behavioral tools used to examine learning and memory in experimental animals. Next, we describe the close association that is observed between defective epigentic processes and impaired memory in several cognitive diseases. The bulk of the chapter is then devoted to describing three broad classes of technical approaches that have been used to better understand how DNA methylation, histone post-translational modification, and microRNAs might contribute to memory. We end the chapter with a discussion on the potential relevance of epigenetic processes in sustaining memory traces in the brain over very long periods of time.

Total Pages: 36-69 (34)

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