FASEB journal: official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Cancer cells metabolize glucose at elevated rates and have a higher sensitivity to glucose reduction. However, the precise molecular mechanisms leading to different responses to glucose restriction between normal and cancer cells are not fully understood. We analyzed normal WI-38 and immortalized WI-38/S fetal lung fibroblasts and found that glucose restriction resulted in growth inhibition and apoptosis in WI-38/S cells, whereas it induced lifespan extension in WI-38 cells.
While the eukaryotic genome is the same throughout all somatic cells in an organism, there are specific structures and functions that discern one type of cell from another. These differences are due to the cell's unique gene expression patterns that are determined during cellular differentiation. Interestingly, these cell-specific gene expression patterns can be affected by an organism's environment throughout its lifetime leading to phenotypical changes that have the potential of altering risk of some diseases.
Chromatin remodeling is recognized as a major regulator of gene expression that can be influenced by inhibition of epigenetic mechanisms that result in stable, heritable, covalent modifications of histone proteins and their associated DNA. Epigenetically regulated covalent modifications are implicated in the pathogenesis of some forms of cancer and stimulated clinical trials of compounds selected for their ability to arrest cell division and promote differentiation of malignantly transformed cells.
Changes in gene expression in brain reward regions are thought to contribute to the pathogenesis and persistence of drug addiction. Recent studies have begun to focus on the molecular mechanisms by which drugs of abuse and related environmental stimuli, such as drug-associated cues or stress, converge on the genome to alter specific gene programs. Increasing evidence suggests that these stable gene expression changes in neurons are mediated in part by epigenetic mechanisms that alter chromatin structure on specific gene promoters.
Recent advances in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder research suggest that a dysfunction of GABAergic neurotransmission that is operative in telencephalic structures may be an important dynamic mechanism associated with psychosis. We propose that this dysfunction is probably mediated by the hypermethylation of glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD67), reelin and other gene promoters expressed in GABAergic neurons.
The SMARCA2 gene, which encodes BRM in the SWI/SNF chromatin-remodeling complex, was recently identified as being associated with schizophrenia (SZ) in a genome-wide approach. Polymorphisms in SMARCA2, associated with the disease, produce changes in the expression of the gene and/or in the encoded amino acid sequence. We show here that an SWI/SNF-centered network including the Smarca2 gene is modified by the down-regulation of REST/NRSF in a mouse neuronal cell line. REST/NRSF down-regulation also modifies the levels of Smarce1, Smarcd3 and SWI/SNF interactors (Hdac1, RcoR1 and Mecp2).
Epigenetic chromatin remodeling, including reversible histone methylation, regulates gene transcription in brain development and synaptic plasticity. Aberrant chromatin modifications due to mutant chromatin enzymes or chemical exposures have been associated with neurological or psychiatric disorders such as mental retardation, schizophrenia, depression, and drug addiction. Some chromatin enzymes, such as histone demethylases JARID1C and UTX, are coded by X-linked genes which are not X-inactivated in females.
There are numerous examples of sex differences in brain and behavior and in susceptibility to a broad range of brain diseases. For example, gene expression is sexually dimorphic during brain development, adult life, and aging. These differences are orchestrated by the interplay between genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences. However, the molecular mechanisms that underpin these differences have not been fully elucidated.
Sponsored by the New York Academy of Sciences, the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and the University of Massachusetts Boston, "Behavioral Epigenetics" was held on October 29-30, 2010 at the University of Massachusetts Boston Campus Center, Boston, Massachusetts. This meeting featured speakers and panel discussions exploring the emerging field of behavioral epigenetics, from basic biochemical and cellular mechanisms to the epigenetic modulation of normative development, developmental disorders, and psychopathology.
Drug addiction continues to be a serious medical and social problem. Vulnerability to develop an addiction to drugs is dependent on genetic, environmental, social and biological factors. In particular, the interactions of environmental and genetic factors indicate the significance of epigenetic mechanisms, which have been found to occur in response to illicit drug use or as underlying factors in chronic substance abuse and relapse. Epigenetics is defined as the heritable and possibly reversible modifications in gene expression that do not involve alterations in the DNA sequence.