[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Epigenetic mechanisms are essential in a host of biological processes and many different human diseases. Epigenetic modifications include DNA methylation, histone modification, non-coding RNA, and nucleosome positioning. In neuronal systems, extensive studies have revealed important regulatory roles of DNA methylation in brain function, from the embryonic stage through the process of aging. Here we review recent evidence that DNA methylation is involved in aging, learning and memory, and neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and CGG repeat-induced neurodegenerative disorders. We also explore the dynamics of DNA methylation.
Current Translational Geriatrics and Experimental Gerontology Reports. 08/2013; 1(4).
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD) share phenotypic and pathologic overlap. Recently, an expansion of GGGGCC repeats in the first intron of C9orf72 was found to be a common cause of both illnesses; however, the molecular pathogenesis of this expanded repeat is unknown. Here we developed both Drosophila and mammalian models of this expanded hexanucleotide repeat and showed that expression of the expanded GGGGCC repeat RNA (rGGGGCC) is sufficient to cause neurodegeneration. We further identified Pur α as the RNA-binding protein of rGGGGCC repeats and discovered that Pur α and rGGGGCC repeats interact in vitro and in vivo in a sequence-specific fashion that is conserved between mammals and Drosophila. Furthermore, overexpression of Pur α in mouse neuronal cells and Drosophila mitigates rGGGGCC repeat-mediated neurodegeneration, and Pur α forms inclusions in the fly eye expressing expanded rGGGGCC repeats, as well as in cerebellum of human carriers of expanded GGGGCC repeats. These data suggest that expanded rGGGGCC repeats could sequester specific RNA-binding protein from their normal functions, ultimately leading to cell death. Taken together, these findings suggest that the expanded rGGGGCC repeats could cause neurodegeneration, and that Pur α may play a role in the pathogenesis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal dementia.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 04/2013; · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Epigenetic regulation, such as DNA methylation and histone modification, is implicated in the aberrant changes in gene expression that occur during the progression of neurodegeneration. Many epigenetics-based drugs have been developed recently for the treatment of some neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Huntington's diseases. Here we review recent studies that highlight the role of epigenetic modifications in neurodegeneration, among them DNA methylation and demethylation and histone acetylation and deacetylation; we also explore the possibility of using epigenetics-based therapeutics to treat neurodegenerative disorders.
Current translational geriatrics and experimental gerontology reports. 12/2012; 1(4):229-236.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) control gene expression by promoting degradation or repressing translation of target mRNAs. The components of the miRNA pathway are subject to diverse modifications that can modulate the abundance and function of miRNAs. Iron is essential for fundamental metabolic processes, and its homeostasis is tightly regulated. Here we identified iron chelators as a class of activator of the miRNA pathway that could promote the processing of miRNA precursors. We show that cytosolic iron could regulate the activity of the miRNA pathway through poly(C)-binding protein 2 (PCBP2). PCBP2 is associated with Dicer and promotes the processing of miRNA precursors. Cytosolic iron could modulate the association between PCBP2 and Dicer, as well as the multimerization of PCBP2 and its ability to bind to miRNA precursors, which can alter the processing of miRNA precursors. Our findings reveal a role of iron homeostasis in the regulation of miRNA biogenesis.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Increasingly complex networks of noncoding RNAs are being found to play important and diverse roles in the regulation of gene expression throughout the genome. Many lines of evidence are linking mutations and dysregulations of noncoding RNAs to a host of human diseases, and noncoding RNAs have been implicated in the molecular pathogenesis of some neurodegenerative disorders. The expansion of trinucleotide repeats is now recognized as a major cause of neurological disorders. Here we will review our current knowledge of the proposed mechanisms behind the involvement of noncoding RNAs in the molecular pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disorders, particularly the sequestration of specific RNA-binding proteins, the regulation of antisense transcripts, and the role of the microRNA pathway in the context of known neurodegenerative disorders caused by the expansion of trinucleotide repeats.