HHMI, Janelia Research Campus
Rapid advances in the field of neuroepigenetics and neurotranscriptomics have transformed our understanding of gene regulation in the nervous system. These discoveries have put to rest the mechanistic dichotomy between nature and nurture, effectively bridging the two concepts. Epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation, post-translational histone modifications, non-coding RNA, and ATP dependent chromatin remodeling play a pivotal role in mediating environmental and psychological stress. These epigenetic changes alter neuronal transcription and lead to changes in animal behavior. Many of these epigenetic changes can last from several hours to several generations.
There is considerable diversity in the nervous system and emerging techniques make it possible to investigate transcriptional and epigenetic diversity in neurons and specific types of cells. Purification of genetically tagged specific cell types from the brain followed by genome-wide methods such as ChIP-seq and RNA-seq allows for comprehensive profiling of neuronal subsets. Furthermore, advances in molecular and imaging tools enable visualization of epigenetic modifications and transcriptional changes in both individual neurons and the entire brain. Emerging techniques in neuroepigenetic editing enable spatial changes in chromatin structure, allowing for causal connections between epigenetic modifications and transcriptional and behavioral outcomes. This collection will cover the latest advances in the field of neuroepigenetics and neurotranscriptomics that enable the study of the nervous system’s function from individual molecules to fully-developed animals across several model and non-model organisms.