The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 59: 171 - 177 (2015)

Vol 59, Issue 4-5-6

Histone deacetylases 1 and 2 are required for brain development

Review | Published: 15 October 2015

Joanna Jaworska, Malgorzata Ziemka-Nalecz and Teresa Zalewska*

NeuroRepair Department, Mossakowski Medical Research Centre, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland


Epigenetic modifications of histones have been implicated in the regulation of cell specific expression of genes required for neuronal development. The best studied post-translational (epigenetic) modification of histones is the process of reversible acetylation. Two types of enzymes - histone acetyltransferases (HATs) and histone deacetylases (HDACs) establish and maintain specific patterns of histone acetylation in balance, thereby contributing to both transcriptional activation and repression of specific sets of genes. Histone deacetylases catalyze the removal of acetyl groups from selected lysine residues in the conserved tails of core histone proteins and are considered as transcriptional corepressors. A significant amount of data implicates HDACs in diverse biological processes, including tissue specific developmental program by silencing specific growth-inhibitory genes. In line with this, gene disruption studies have shown that the class I deacetylases, HDAC1 and HDAC2 play an essential role in nervous system development. In the present review, we briefly highlight current insights supporting the function of histone deacetylases in rodent brain development and discuss present knowledge referring to their role in neurogenesis, taking into consideration results obtained in culture systems and in in vivo studies.


histone, deacetylase, brain, development

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