Post-translational modification of histones is a primary mechanism through which epigenetic regulation of DNA transcription
does occur. Among these modifications, regulation of histone acetylation state is an important tool to influence gene expression. Epigenetic
regulation of neurodevelopment contributes to the structural and functional shaping of the brain during neurogenesis and continues
to impact on neural plasticity lifelong. Alterations of these mechanisms during neurodevelopment may result in later occurrence of neuropsychatric
disorders. The present paper reviews and discusses available data on histone modifications, in particular histone acetylation,
in neurogenesis considering results obtained in culture systems of neural progenitors as well as in in vivo studies. Possible teratogenic effects
of altered histone acetylation state during development are also considered. The use during pregnancy of drugs such as valproic
acid, which acts as a histone deacetylase inhibitor, may result during postnatal development in autistic-like symptoms. The effect of gestational
administration of the drug has been, therefore, tested on adult hippocampal neurogenesis in animals showing behavioral impairment
as a consequence of the drug administration at a specific stage of pregnancy. These experimental results show that adult neurogenesis
in the hippocampal dentate gyrus is not quantitatively altered by gestational valproic acid administration. Future steps and goals of research
on the role and mechanisms of histone acetylation in neurodevelopment are briefly discussed.
Keywords: Neurogenesis, histone deacetylases, neural precursors, hippocampal adult neurogenesis, valproic acid, autistic-like models.
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