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Life Experience and DNA Polymorphisms Influence the Brain Epigenome

  • Michael O. Poulter (a1)
  • Please note a correction has been issued for this article.

Extract

Although not strictly fitting the category of translational neuroscience, I believe the implications of this study where it was found that variability in DNA sequence, a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), can influence the epigenetic status of DNA and this is influenced by childhood trauma should be of wide interest.

Epigenetics is a burgeoning field of study that seeks to understand how alterations in DNA structure influence a wide range of biological outcomes ranging from cancer susceptibility to behaviour. Across this spectrum, two basic kinds of structure are most often examined. The first is covalent modification of DNA by methylation and second is the interaction between DNA binding proteins (histones for example) and DNA. Both influence the three dimensional structure of DNA and therefore gene expression. Importantly these dynamics are thought to be influenced by environmental conditions that may be positive or detrimental. For example, fetal alcohol syndrome has been shown to alter the methylation status of DNA accounting for the facial/cranial abnormalities that are often observed in these patients.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Molecular Brain Research Group, Robarts Research Institute, Dept of Physiology & Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Western Ontario, 100 Perth Drive, London, Ontario, N6A 5K8, Canada. Email: mpoulter@robarts.ca

References

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1.Klengel, T, Mehta, D, Anacker, C, et al.Allele-specific FKBP5 DNA demethylation mediates gene-childhood trauma interactions. Nat. Neurosci. 2013;16(1):3341.

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A correction has been issued for this article: