Histone deacetylases (HDACs) are a family of chromatin remodeling enzymes that restrict access of transcription factors to the DNA, thereby repressing gene expression. In contrast, histone acetyltransferases (HATs) relax the chromatin structure allowing for an active chromatin state and promoting gene transcription. Accumulating data have demonstrated a crucial function for histone acetylation and histone deacetylation in regulating the cellular and behavioral mechanisms underlying synaptic plasticity and learning and memory. In trying to delineate the roles of individual HDACs, genetic tools have been used to manipulate HDAC expression in rodents, uncovering distinct contributions of individual HDACs in regulating the processes of memory formation. Moreover, recent findings have suggested an important role for HDAC inhibitors in enhancing learning and memory processes as well as ameliorating symptoms related to neurodegenerative diseases. In this review, we focus on the role of HDACs in learning and memory, as well as significant data emerging from the field in support of HDAC inhibitors as potential therapeutic targets for the treatment of cognitive disorders.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience