[Epigenetics and memory].Biol Aujourdhui. 2010; 204(2):131-7.BA
The epigenetic marking of chromatin in the brain has recently been recognized as an essential mechanism for brain functions such as learning and memory formation. It allows nerve cells not only to respond to environmental stimuli and modulate their profile of gene expression, but also to establish and maintain their own identity. The epigenetic code is conferred by a set of covalent modifications on the basic elements of chromatin, DNA and histone proteins. These changes are catalyzed by specific enzymes and mechanisms, which include DNA methylation, and post-translational modifications of histone proteins such as acetylation, phosphorylation, methylation and ubiquitination. They are both stable and highly dynamic, and are triggered during stimulation of neuronal circuits but can also persist thereafter. Their study in animal models has demonstrated their importance, and revealed some of their modes of function.