Histone methylation at gene promoters is associated with developmental regulation and region-specific expression of ionotropic and metabotropic glutamate receptors in human brain

UMMS Affiliation

Information Services, Academic Computing Services; Department of Cell Biology; Department of Psychiatry

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Aged; Analysis of Variance; *Cerebral Cortex; Chromatin; Fetus; Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental; Gestational Age; Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase; Histones; Humans; Immunohistochemistry; Immunoprecipitation; Infant, Newborn; Lysine; Methylation; Nucleosomes; Postmortem Changes; Promoter Regions (Genetics); RNA, Messenger; Receptors, Glutamate; Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology | Neuroscience and Neurobiology


Glutamatergic signaling is regulated, in part, through differential expression of NMDA and AMPA/KA channel subunits and G protein-coupled metabotropic receptors. In human brain, region-specific expression patterns of glutamate receptor genes are maintained over the course of decades, suggesting a role for molecular mechanisms involved in long-term regulation of transcription, including methylation of lysine residues at histone N-terminal tails. Using a native chromatin immunoprecipitation assay, we studied histone methylation marks at proximal promoters of 16 ionotropic and metabotropic glutamate receptor genes (GRIN1,2A-D; GRIA1,3,4; GRIK2,4,5; GRM1,3,4,6,7 ) in cerebellar cortex collected across a wide age range from midgestation to 90 years old. Levels of di- and trimethylated histone H3-lysine 4, which are associated with open chromatin and transcription, showed significant differences between promoters and a robust correlation with corresponding mRNA levels in immature and mature cerebellar cortex. In contrast, levels of trimethylated H3-lysine 27 and H4-lysine 20, two histone modifications defining silenced or condensed chromatin, did not correlate with transcription but were up-regulated overall in adult cerebellum. Furthermore, differential gene expression patterns in prefrontal and cerebellar cortex were reflected by similar differences in H3-lysine 4 methylation at promoters. Together, these findings suggest that histone lysine methylation at gene promoters is involved in developmental regulation and maintenance of region-specific expression patterns of ionotropic and metabotropic glutamate receptors. The association of a specific epigenetic mark, H3-(methyl)-lysine 4, with the molecular architecture of glutamatergic signaling in human brain has potential implications for schizophrenia and other disorders with altered glutamate receptor function.

DOI of Published Version



J Neurochem. 2005 Jul;94(2):324-36. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of neurochemistry

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